DGN Policy Brief 14: Examining the Online Anonymity Debate: How far should the law go in mandating user identification?
  • 23 Sep, 2021

Authors: Vrinda Bhandari, Rishab Bailey and Faiza Rahman


  • Recognising the right to online anonymity has key expression, privacy and equity related benefits, and thus, a general identification mandate for users of online platforms should be avoided.
  • At the same time, anonymity is not an absolute right. Lifting of the veil of anonymity is a complex exercise that requires careful balancing of competing interests and contextual factors, that is best undertaken by a judicial authority.
  • An option for voluntary identity verification must not, de facto, become mandatory, or be used to mandate linkages with Aadhaar.
  • A mandatory traceability requirement, as contained in the Intermediary Guidelines Rules, 2021, is disproportionate given the costs to civil liberties and the digital ecosystem, the alternatives available to law enforcement, and the lack of proper safeguards that can balance competing interests.