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If an individual writes a document for public consumption anonymously or pseudonymously and either explicitly or presumably desires to remain anonymous, is there a Halachic issue with publicly unmasking the author, or with publicly assembling information about the author toward the goal of unmasking them?

This activity ("doxing," in Internet slang) is practiced in various Internet forums, and the ethics thereof are a subject of controversy. It's potentially relevant on a forum like this one that values contributions from pseudonymous authors.

If sources address this activity, do they distinguish regarding the nature of the material that was anonymously authored - whether it was Torah, objectionable, controversial, etc.?

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Good question! Better question: "Is anything not addressed by halacha?" ;-) –  HodofHod Jan 3 '13 at 19:18
    
@HodofHod שכל מעשיו יהיו לשם שמים. –  Double AA Jan 3 '13 at 20:00
    
@IsaacMoses Are you encouraging me edit ba's comment at the end of my post into my post? –  Double AA Jan 6 '13 at 4:21
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I don't remember in which volume it was, and in where in the volume it is, that the Mekor Baruch writes that he tried to find out who was an anonymous newspaper author, and he was told that it's not allowed (based on the story of R' Akiva revealing Tzelafchad) –  Shmuel Brin Jan 6 '13 at 4:40

1 Answer 1

The Talmud (Yoma 4b) relates:

ויקרא אל משה וידבר למה הקדים קריאה לדיבור? לימדה תורה דרך ארץ, שלא יאמר אדם דבר לחבירו אלא אם כן קורהו. מסייע ליה לרבי חנינא, דאמר רבי חנינא: לא יאמר אדם דבר לחבירו אלא אם כן קורהו. לאמר אמר רבי (מוסיא בר בריה דרבי מסיא משמיה דרבי מוסיא) +מסורת הש"ס: [מנסיא]+ רבה: מניין לאומר דבר לחבירו שהוא בבל יאמר, עד שיאמר לו לך אמור - שנאמר +ויקרא א+ וידבר ה' אליו מאהל מועד לאמר.‏
And the Lord called unto Moses, and spoke unto him; why does Scripture mention the call before the speech? — The Torah teaches us good manners: a man should not address his neighbour without having first called him. This supports the view of R. Hanina, for R. Hanina said: No man shall speak to his neighbour unless he calls him first to speak to him. Rabbah said: Whence do we know that if a man had said something to his neighbour the latter must not spread the news without the informant's telling him ‘Go and say it’? From the scriptural text: The Lord spoke to him out of the tent of meeting, lemor [saying] . (Translation from Soncino)

If one is forbidden to say over something until one knows for sure that he can, all the more so one should be forbidden to do so if he knows he cannot.

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Would there not be a difference between repeating something told in confidence and revealing who wrote something? –  Gershon Gold Jan 3 '13 at 17:16
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@GershonGold Anyone who knows in order to revel it has effectively been told not to repeat it because the author told everyone not to repeat it. –  Double AA Jan 3 '13 at 17:16
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@yoel, this answer seems to be treating identity as a particular kind of confidential information rather than as protected by some special "right." –  Isaac Moses Jan 3 '13 at 17:18
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If I was not told, however I figured it out would that not be different? –  Gershon Gold Jan 3 '13 at 17:19
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@GershonGold, it's not clear in the language of this Gemara whether the case is one where the first person said not to repeat the information or one where the first person merely hasn't yet explicitly given permission to do so. I wonder if it's interpreted in later Halachic sources. –  Isaac Moses Jan 3 '13 at 17:21

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