The Mayor of Spokane, WA has found out the hard way that there is virtually no anonymity online. Apparently, he is accused of offering city jobs in a gay chat room, among other things:
Newsday.com: Spokane Mayor Debates Privacy Online:
"SPOKANE, Wash. -- After what Mayor James West called his 'brutal outing' by a newspaper that published transcripts of his conversations from a gay chat room, he complained in an e-mail to the city's commission on race relations. West asked: 'Should we all fear that our private conversations will be splashed publicly and out of context for all in our sphere to see?' The answer, Internet privacy advocates say, is 'yes.'
'Online anonymity is kind of hard to come by,' said Beth Givens of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a consumer information privacy group in San Diego.
'You cannot count on anonymity in virtually any online communication, unless you are an expert at using encryption and do a lot of research on the service you are using,' Givens said.
After receiving a tip the mayor was offering city jobs to young men he met in a Gay.com chat room, The Spokesman-Review found a way to corroborate the information without having to subpoena records from the chat room's sponsor.
It hired a computer expert to track the identity of the person behind the screen names 'Cobra82,' 'RightBiGuy' and 'JMSElton' that it suspected was the mayor...."