U.N. Agency Drafting Standards to Reduce Ability to Remain Anonymous Online

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A United National agency and the U.S. National Security Agency are working on putting together technical standards to define ways to trace original sources of Internet communications to reduce the ability of online users to remain anonymous.

The methods were proposed by the Chinese government.

The groups are operating under the name Q6/17. The meetings are closed to the public, and the entities are not releasing specific documents related to their work.

But their work alone is throwing up red flags to some technologists, especially since Internet users' right to remain anonymous is protected by law in the U.S. and is recognized by international groups such as the Council of Europe.

"What's distressing is that it doesn't appear that there's been any real consideration of how this type of capability could be misused," said Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. "That's really a human rights concern."

Though there are legal reasons to uncover Internet users' identities, the methods being drafted by Q6/17 allow for surveillance and monitoring of users. The methods are in line with the Chinese government's oppressive nature and history of quashing detractors and their Internet communications.

For more on the story, see CNET's report here.