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Anonymity is derived from the Greek word ἀνωνυμία, anonymia, meaning "without a name" or "namelessness". In colloquial use, anonymity typically refers to the state of an individual's personal identity, or personally identifiable information, being publicly unknown. There are various situations in which a person might choose to withhold their identity. Acts of charity have been performed anonymously when benefactors do not wish to be acknowledged. A person who feels threatened might attempt to mitigate that threat through anonymity. A witness to a crime might seek to avoid retribution, for example, by anonymously calling a crime tipline. Criminals might proceed anonymously to conceal their participation in a crime. Anonymity may also be created unintentionally, through the loss of identifying information due to the passage of time or a destructive event. In certain situations, it is illegal to remain anonymous. In the United States, 24 states have “Stop and identify” statutes that requires persons detained to self identify when requested by a law enforcement officer. The term "anonymous message" typically refers to a message that does not carry any information about its sender and its intended recipient. It is therefore unclear if multiple such messages have been sent by the same sender or if they have the same intended recipient. (via Freebase)