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How the Web's Relationship With Anonymity Has Changed

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the one-in-a-million dept.

Privacy 172

A story at the NY Times explores how the internet's involvement with anonymity has evolved over the past two decades. Quoting: "Not too long ago, theorists fretted that the Internet was a place where anonymity thrived. Now, it seems, it is the place where anonymity dies. ... The collective intelligence of the Internet’s two billion users, and the digital fingerprints that so many users leave on Web sites, combine to make it more and more likely that every embarrassing video, every intimate photo, and every indelicate e-mail is attributed to its source, whether that source wants it to be or not. This intelligence makes the public sphere more public than ever before and sometimes forces personal lives into public view. ... This erosion of anonymity is a product of pervasive social media services, cheap cellphone cameras, free photo and video Web hosts, and perhaps most important of all, a change in people’s views about what ought to be public and what ought to be private."

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A challenge (4, Interesting)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526488)

I would challenge people to find out where I live or work. I think anonymity is still alive for those who care.

Re:A challenge (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526516)

Australia ;)

Re:A challenge (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526558)

That narrows it down to about 20 million, minus one because I know he is not me.

Re:A challenge (3)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526660)

Bruce, is that you?

Re:A challenge (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526760)

FULLNAME: MichaelRohanSmith
MARITALSTATUS: Married
DATEOFBIRTH: 8thofOctober,1965
PLACEOFBIRTH: Kew,Victoria,Australia
ADDRESS: 19ClarenceSt,EastBrunswick,Victoria3057
TELEPHONE: 0393834540(home)
MOBILE: 0416062898
EMAIL: resume@netapps.com.au

Re:A challenge (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526964)

Now, do the same for me! =)

Re:A challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36528390)

Birthdate: 1980-09-24
East Bank, West Virginia, United States
http://schadrach.livejournal.com

Re:A challenge (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36527822)

I'll be really impressed if you figure out who I am :)

Re:A challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36527840)

Can that be confirmed as really his info? Scary.

Re:A challenge (1)

captain_sweatpants (1997280) | more than 3 years ago | (#36528050)

This wasn't the guy who posed the challenge. He's not trying to hide - his slashdot bio provides more than enough information to uniquely identify him with a bit of googling.

A guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526520)

I'd have to guess Australia? lol

Re:A challenge (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526522)

I would challenge people to find out where I live or work. I think anonymity is still alive for those who care.

I doubt I could identify you, but I am sure that many Governments have the capability to get the IP address you posted from and map that to a name.

Re:A challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526606)

You don't really know what you're talking about, do you?

Re:A challenge (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526670)

"Governments have capability" - Hmm, I see what you mean.

Re:A challenge (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526714)

You don't really know what you're talking about, do you?

aussie_a's IP address is easy to get if a government has the ability to spy on internet infrastructure in the country where slashdot is hosted. The IP address gives you his ISP. The IP and the time of the post give you his account details.

Seems simple to me.

Re:A challenge (2)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526756)

>The IP and the time of the post give you his account details. Slight correction - they give you SOMEONE's account details.

Re:A challenge (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526900)

Mod parent up. That should be labelled "Fixed That For You".

Let's be clear: my wifi router is open, and has one of the strongest signals in the neighborhood, which includes an apartment complex. So perhaps 20 households, not just people, have access to my internet, and I don't really care much whether that might piss off my ISP.

ANYBODY in the neighborhood can get on their computer, set their browser to "anonymous" mode (so that no records are kept), and access whatever. The IP address and ISP account don't mean squat.

Depends on what you're doing (2)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527026)

ANYBODY in the neighborhood can get on their computer, set their browser to "anonymous" mode (so that no records are kept), and access whatever. The IP address and ISP account don't mean squat.

Until the people with guns show up, lock you up and start scanning MAC addresses, traffic and signal strength. Then they find the computer, lock the other person up and retrieve the data from "anonymous mode" in about 20 minutes.

This of course depends on what they're doing. Transferring music and movies, not going to happen. Trying to do something more serious, is going to happen.

Re:A challenge (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527032)

No, it means you'll be responsible for everything your neighbors do. It's not right, it's not fair, but when shit goes down, it'll be your name on the IP address, and that'll be all the cops care about.

Re:A challenge (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527174)

Cops are gonna cop but judges have a good track record of expecting evidence of commission of crimes.

Re:A challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526772)

Right. Subpoena GeekNet for the server log that provides aussie_a's IP address at the time of the post, then determine the ISP from the IP address (easy), then subpoena the ISP for the subscriber name corresponding to the IP address at the time. It's not hard. This is how people get busted "anonymously" posting confidential information about their employer for instance.

Re:A challenge (2)

alci63 (1856480) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526538)

First elements : you live in Australia and work in IT. You have done a lot of web development. I'll come back later with more...

Re:A challenge (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526610)

And a gay rights activist, don't forget that.

Re:A challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526682)

Works in a company that still requires IE6 for their internal web sites, but supports other browsers for external ones. Probably a large, relatively old company, given the IE6 requirement (large amounts of legacy code) and how he talked about "his building".

Re:A challenge (1)

TheCycoONE (913189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526654)

You better, because I don't think Australian Web Developers are a small enough subset of people to scare him yet.

(Unlike gp I know I'm easy to trace, so getting my info wouldn't impress me much)

Re:A challenge (1)

alci63 (1856480) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526750)

Well. He (I'm betting he's a "he") also has a very bright sister. She's now doing a Phd in psychology. More to come, stay tuned...

Re:A challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526694)

Says the guy with a "GMail Invite Challenge" in his journal...

1) Create a youtube account as "aussie_a"
2) Upload video of a guy filming his children who torture a captured racoon to death (or similar stuff i keep on my 2TB shit)
3) Post link to video several times on 4chan
4) ... (ca. 30 minutes)
5) You're fucked... hard.. or hardest... depending on the actual video I'd post

Re:A challenge (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526726)

Michael Smith | 61 386 304 560
Team Leader, Case and Tools | 61 416 062 898
Thales Australia TCC | S 37.82329
Melbourne, Victoria | E 144.95426

Re:A challenge (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526742)

Very good except I forgot to update my resume.

Re:A challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526752)

> Michael Smith
> Network Applications
> www.netapps.com.au | +61 (0) 416 062 898
> Web Hosting | Internet Services

Re:A challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526840)

Wait, so you're both /. users 'aussie_a ' and 'MichaelSmith'?

I know you! (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526776)

You're David Davidson unless I'm mistaken.

Re:A challenge (1)

gx5000 (863863) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526796)

Those who know how still do but are considered anti-social and anti-technological, which is ridiculous. The things people post of themselves online is incredible.

Re:A challenge (1)

sheepe2004 (1029824) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526812)

Is this you?: http://au.linkedin.com/pub/louis-aldum/26/425/10a [linkedin.com] Found it via two google searches: aussie_a turned up a twitter account, searching the name given on that account gave the linked in page.

Re:A challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526896)

Is this [twitter.com] your Twitter account? If so, your name is Louis Aldum. With this real name it should be easy to find a lot more.

Re:A challenge (2)

PartyBoy!911 (611650) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526932)

Are you possibly Louis Aldum from around Perth?

Re:A challenge (5, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527044)

I would challenge people to find out where I live or work. I think anonymity is still alive for those who care.

This. Anonymity is dying because corporations want it to die, and slowly but surely they are getting their way. Anonymity isn't good for the bottom line, and we are being teased and enticed and in some cases (facebook) dragged kicking and screaming out of anonymity. For those that still want to use the Internet anonymously, there aren't too many hurdles to doing so. *IF* you care. Anonymity just isn't the default any more (so few people choose it), but that doesn't mean it's impossible.

Re:A challenge (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#36528044)

Is it only because corps want it to die and not because we're hitting the tipping point where enough people are behaving irresponsibly and causing enough trouble for everyone else that they're willing to forgo some anonymity to get things back to a workable state? (in before Ben Franklin quote).

Resource abused, community responds, film at 11.

Re:A challenge (1)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 3 years ago | (#36528312)

Is it only because corps want it to die and not because we're hitting the tipping point where enough people are behaving irresponsibly and causing enough trouble for everyone else that they're willing to forgo some anonymity to get things back to a workable state? (in before Ben Franklin quote).

Resource abused, community responds, film at 11.

I'd chalk it up to a few things:

  1. It's becoming far easier to connect all the dots of a person's life, with trivial effort. Worse, for convenience we encourage people to make those connections for us - not just "who's your friend on Facebook", but "sign in with your Facebook/Twitter/Google account".
  2. That sort of marketing data is gold to corporations, so they have zero interest in protecting your privacy any more than they absolutely have to. Why does the grocery store give you a discount or air miles with the "club card"? Because it lets them track your sales preferences.
  3. Not only does the public generally not care about privacy, they tend to actively subvert others - for instance, the "kissing couple". There was no pressing reason that these two people needed to be publicly identified.

The "tag the rioters" push in Vancouver is actually pretty funny - I'm waiting for people to start photoshopping their favorite politicians into those photos and tagging them as rioters. (I'd be surprised if anyone is actually found guilty in court via Facebook - how do you even prove the photo was taken where they say it was?)

Re:A challenge (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36528260)

Anonymity is difficult.

Get a decent anon proxy, add-on real privacy tweaks to the browser (ref control, cookie block, google sharing, proxy switcher, ip display, noscript, adblock etc), use a sandbox like sandboxie. Test the config.

Create a disposable email account. Create another email account (not google or ms or yahoo) with it as the "backup" account. Use the "clean" email account to do whatever with, such as a bogus facebook account or whatever you need.

Never connect to anything "clean" w/o the proxy. Associate with no-one you actually know using this "identity".

Save no history, block all cookies but required, clean cookies regularly if necessary. The sandbox will help to keep the browser clean of cookies, etc.

Aside from 0wnage of some other schmucks computer and using remote screen to surf from HIS box, at the moment I haven't come across anything better.

With the privacy tweaks "they" have difficulty getting you via cookies. With the proxy they don't know your real IP. If the proxy uses encryption the ISP doesn't know anything much. By keeping the ID clean of people who know you, your "friends" won't snitch to the man.

Hackers have been busted by forgetting to use the proxy, and/or bragging about their exploits.

Re:A challenge (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527168)

Anonymity is alive in certain scenarios. I hope you realize the internet is not designed for anonymity and basically not part of that, right?

It's designed for public sharing. You can secure things, but to think anything is anonymous online is just sheer idiocy. Whether someone cares to look at your stuff, depends on a: if you want them to and b: if it's interesting.

Re:A challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36527990)

You're John Lynch, You live in Relto or Sydney, Australia

You used to own the domain TheUruLives.com
This is one is yours: http://johnlynch.blogspot.com/
You wrote this webcomic : http://www.gutterflycomix.com/thequeensland/

Re:A challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36528294)

lives in the western suburbs of Sydney, probably around the Parramatta or Granville area, 25 year old Anglo-Australian, wears glasses and is overweight, atheist and conservative (or at least reactionary) but probably doesn't know who to vote for, has travelled overseas several times, works as a developer

Re:A challenge (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 3 years ago | (#36528476)

I would challenge people to figure out who I am, but seeing as I have the URL of my name and have my screen name that I use everywhere on the internet plastered all over it and I'm more than half the top page of Google results for the name I use, my real name, and my screen name, I'm really kinda thinking it wouldn't be too hard... I guess my view has always been that if I'm willing to say it on the internet, then I'm willing to say it in public and I could really care less if people know who I am. If I really wanted to be anonymous for something there are still plenty of ways to do that, but assuming you are anonymous on the internet unless you go to lengths to ensure you are is stupid and has been for some time.

I do find it odd (1)

z3nwizard (1711276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526492)

That someone online only masking their IP address is "anonymous" and yet they use their real name.. or don't even need to hide it. And yet my Grandma doesn't have a computer or IP address and isn't "anonymous" but just keeps to herself. If someone is online and keeps to themselves but as well doesn't go out much.. they are anonymous?? That's a little stupid.. I don't mean the people that cause problems.. authors had pennames before that.

LinkedIn is a social engineer's wet dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526540)

Companies should ban employees from using it.

Re:LinkedIn is a social engineer's wet dream (2)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 3 years ago | (#36528388)

Or better yet, train their employees to realize that just because someone knows where you work, doesn't mean they're who they claim to be.

Hell, what happened to the rule of thumb that you never give this sort of detail to people who call you, only to people you call?

Hello There! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526546)

What, aren't I anonymous?

AC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526554)

I suggest everybody post anonymous comments to this story

It's not the internet (4, Insightful)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526576)

It's society. Banks stopped accepting money unless they can trace where it comes from. Even shops want to follow you around. Surveillance cameras pop up in societies that never knew them. Your ISP has to spy on you as well. Governments pass laws to make companies spy on people if those companies do not do so voluntarily.

Re:It's not the internet (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526594)

I wonder how long you will still be able to legally buy a second-hand computer for cash. It seems that if you want to be anonymous online you have to start at the bottom of the stack.

Re:It's not the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526650)

Used computers for cash probably will not be a problem, internet connection has always been and always will be traceable.

Re:It's not the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526698)

Except (for now) with open wifi.

Re:It's not the internet (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526814)

Or second-hand mobile phones.

Re:It's not the internet (2)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526996)

Or patched dial up. Or assuming you haven't faked the details you used to get the credit card to pay for a broadband connection. We keep seeing these articles that say "all privacy is gone" but the truth is the privacy was never there. Anonymity isn't something everyone is busy nurturing because for most people it's not something they see a value in (it's only when your identity is "stolen" or you get stalked or whatever that this suddenly becomes valuable). The truth is people could trivially maintain their anonymity online if they cared enough to do so. We're not yet at the point where you can't buy food unless you're plugged into the web - aside from banking (and then it's only an issue if you're in a small town with no local banks and no transport) there are no essential services you need to give your real details to online.

Re:It's not the internet (2)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 3 years ago | (#36528452)

We keep seeing these articles that say "all privacy is gone" but the truth is the privacy was never there.

More properly, all the pieces were always there, but it was too expensive and time-consuming to connect them all. (Heck, what do you think police and private investigators do?). Computers have made it cost-effective to track everything about everyone (even if you don't really care about it), because some day you might need to know how many people with 5s in their telephone number also eat sushi take-out on Wednesdays.

That's not anonymous, this is (5, Interesting)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526884)

Except (for now) with open wifi.

Unless you bought your laptop from a major vendor and the WiFi operator gets your MAC address.

You want to be completely anonymous? Get an old laptop, a live DVD and an old WiFi card, pay cash. Remove the HDD, throw it out. Use the live DVD for your OS. Never connect to the Internet anywhere unless you are on a random open WiFi connection that isn't near a camera, a hiking trail might be a good place. Use anonymous proxies through that connection for all your Internet access.

Then do whatever it is you really need to be anonymous for, throw the WiFi card into a river and shred the DVD.

If you need to repeat, burn a new DVD and buy another WiFi card.

That's as close as you can get to being completely anonymous on the Internet.

Re:That's not anonymous, this is (2)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526934)

Also, you might want to contact your NSA handler and properly adjust your tin foil hat before doing this.

Re:That's not anonymous, this is (2)

yahwotqa (817672) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526976)

That also means rivers polluted with cheap plastic and metal trash. Please don't do this.

Re:That's not anonymous, this is (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527364)

It's a perfect time to launch my new line of biodegradable network cards.

You do realize that I was offering up a hypothetical scenario. I don't see any valid reason why someone would go through those lengths to remain anonymous.

Re:That's not anonymous, this is (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527428)

Unless their life or liberty was endangered by a government.

Re:That's not anonymous, this is (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527592)

Unless their life or liberty was endangered by a government.

Honestly, how many people fall into this category? Then out of them, how many of them are in this category doing something for the greater good and not for self enrichment?

Re:That's not anonymous, this is (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36528026)

At one point in time a group of 56 such people gathered together to sign a document, the first published version of which didn't have their names on it since they were in danger of being hanged for treason.

One was captured and imprisoned by the government merely for having signed the document; two were wounded during their struggle against this government; one urged that when the enemy used his home as a headquarters that it be fired upon and destroyed (the owner died bankrupt, never able to re-build his home); another had to leave his ill wife's bedside, he and his 13 children fleeing to live in the wilderness, when he returned he found his wife dead, his business destroyed and died in poverty some years later; two others also saw their businesses destroyed, ultimately dying in poverty.[1]

I was fortunate to be able to purchase a letterpress printed copy of a later version of this document which was printed recently and it hangs in the family living room[2].

1 - http://www.connecticutsar.org/articles/price_paid.htm [connecticutsar.org]
2 - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/File-Goddard_broadside.jpg [wikimedia.org]

Re:That's not anonymous, this is (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527066)

Um, you *do* know that you can reprogram the MAC address of a network interface (including a WiFi card) to be anything you want at will, right? You might not be able to do it with the software that came out of the box with it, but it *is* doable.

Re:That's not anonymous, this is (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527278)

Yes, SMAC is a good example. But MAC addresses are only one way to figure out how you connected. Physically removing and discarding the wireless subsystem is the only way to make sure there's no way to trace back to you.

Re:It's not the internet (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526754)

Used computers for cash probably will not be a problem, internet connection has always been and always will be traceable.

Internet connection seems less traceable recently, with Starbucks, McDonalds, and Panera Bread being pretty large ISPs these days.

OTOH, soon their video systems will be linked to internet use. Already linking video to cash-register-transactions to catch people doing check fraud. The technology can probably already link it to internet use too.

Re:It's not the internet (1)

SilentStaid (1474575) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526832)

As long as we've got Pringles cans, time on our hands and the ability to drive within a 100ft of a open wifi point, I think that we'll have true anonymity.

Re:It's not the internet (1)

singlevalley (1368965) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526758)

It is probably the governments and the alphabet agencies that want to know everything about you..so they can justify spending billions on their fancy data analysis tools... i never said i wanted to be traced or agree to compromise my privacy, but the minimum I have to agree to to get some or any service is to almost sell/ give away my privacy in almost all cases... Ce la Vie

that's one reason I post here as AC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526600)

I would not be at all surprised if someone down the road - perhaps a hacker group like anonymous or lulzsec - publishes a ginormous list of people's names, together with all their email addresses and handles at various sites. Then search sites will turn up that will harvest this list, so you can type in a coworker's name and start browsing their "anonymous" posting history across dozens of web forums.

Re:that's one reason I post here as AC (2)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526716)

slashdot / gmail / bbc / youporn (and the rest) / amazon. My internet history is sad sad sad.

Re:that's one reason I post here as AC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526724)

Oh yes, I can't wait for people from HR just calling me because I posted a bad thing about Nintendo's Zeldo the Wind Waker[1] on a forum in 2001 and then sacking me, nevermind that I was posting it at evening on my home computer and I wasn't with them at that time and our industry is not in the videogames production or distribution.

[1] which is actually shit, long live Ocarina of Time.

Re:that's one reason I post here as AC (2)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526804)

http://mailinator.com/ [mailinator.com]

You're welcome.

Re:that's one reason I post here as AC (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527006)

lulzsec? Pretty sure there are already companies with very public faces who have been happily doing this for years now. What worries me is that there is so much information that has nothing to do with my online activities floating around, well, online.

Re:that's one reason I post here as AC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36527120)

There are people-oriented search engines, but I think they rely on email account name chaining and tricks like that. The stunt I'm talking about would have to capture ISP and server log info that only Certain Government Agencies are privy to - and anyone who manages to hack these CGAs of course.

Nobody cared about hiding before now (2)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526734)

20 years ago, people happily published their names, addresses and phone numbers in public directories. In those days, anyone could be found by anyone. You'd only need to visit about 2 Sarah Connors before you found the one you wanted.

Re:Nobody cared about hiding before now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36527806)

Aside from making me laugh out loud in the middle of the office, this is spot on. Nobody has ever been really anonymous without making the effort to "stay off the radar". The internet is no different - it's only people who've been around long enough to remember some semblence of anonymity (which was really just lack of information coupled with a lack of popular networking tools, but even that didn't stop bunches of us meeting up in the real world without any worry that we were meeting axemen or marketeers) who seem to think differently.

Times change (2)

Comboman (895500) | more than 3 years ago | (#36528094)

20 years ago, people who abused the information in those directories (telemarketers, stalkers, T-100s) where relatively rare. As the abuse increased, so did the desire for anonymity. And even back then, there were some who were willing to pay extra to be "unlisted".

Internet was never anonymous. (1)

alexmin (938677) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526828)

Whoever believed otherwise was an ignorant fool.

Internet was always anonymous. (2)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526908)

I'd argue the opposite. Internet use is always inherently anonymous. Yes anyone can trace your IP to a physical location if they are persistent enough, but nothing on the internet ever really proves who was using the computer or internet connection at any given time. Maybe webcams go some of the way to providing proof, but of course video can be faked. You need independent evidence not related to the internet to remove anonymity.

anonymity only dies if you're careless (2)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526830)

Whatever you post online has to be assumed to be there forever. If you at some point posts embarrassing photos with one account, at another time posts something linking that account to another account, then somewhere online posts something linking the second account to your real identity... guess what? Your real identity is now easily linked to those pictures you posted while drunk all those years ago. It's not going to look good on your resume, is it?

It don't even have to be yourself posting something you want to keep hidden... most of us have thoughtless "friends" who uploads stuff that can be linked to you. A former coworker got into lots of trouble because another coworker brought a camera to an office party - stuff that you find funny after ten beers is a lot less funny when you sober up and realize that your boss have found the pictures while browsing Facebook.

The only way to keep your anonymity is to be careful and aware of what you do online at all time, and be paranoid to boot. Or possible be so uninteresting that no one will bother to dig too much to get your information.

Didn't the RIAA fix all this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36526886)

The RIAA has done a good job of demonstrating what you can accomplish via vigorous application of copyright law. If you did not authorize your email, or you photo, or your whatever to be widely disseminated, then sue the bejeezus out of whoever does it. This will accomplish two things: (1) make people think twice about being a douche bag, and (2) completely crush the judicial system, perhaps leading congress to consider much-needed copyright reforms.

There's no right to be anonymous. (1, Insightful)

Restil (31903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526904)

However, so long as people didn't abuse it, we were willing to accommodate it. People with unpopular political views, whistleblowers, people hiding from an abusive ex-significant other, etc. Perfectly good reasons to hide your identity, and we were happy to let you partake in civil participation with the internet community, even though we have no idea who you actually are. We're still willing.

However, those people don't comprise Anonymous as we currently know it. A small, but loud segment of the internet population has decided to use the same
virtual anonymity to conduct more nefarious affairs. At first things were relatively harmless. Some people got abused, but juvenile pranks that are short term and relatively simple to recover from will not justify the attention span of those who could make a difference. But at some point, someone crossed the line. It might have happened a long time ago, or more recently, but at some point, someone important (someone who can cause a lot of harm while trying to do something good), will have realized that when it becomes important to stop some of these people, knowing who they actually are is helpful, and sweeping legislation will eventually get passed to make sure that government agencies, oppressive or otherwise, will be able to determine your identity with relative ease.

So great. The person or people who are causing grief for Sony, the FBI and the CIA can be more easily caught in the future. Unfortunately, so can the Chinese citizen who just wants to dream out loud of the hope for a better life. And if the government can do it easily, so can a lot of other people, even if they're not supposed to. The lulz are short term. The people involved will either get caught or grow up in a short period of time, but the ramifications will last forever.
The sad thing is, even though it's ethically and legally challenging, there is a time and a place where a large anonymous mob could be useful. Nobody sheds any tears when Westboro encounters some annoying resistance. All I'm saying is, if you're going to use Anonymity as a sword rather than a shield, it would be prudent to pick your battles wisely.

Re:There's no right to be anonymous. (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527014)

I think they were quite smart picking some easy targets like the entertainment industry before scaling up to, say, the chinese government. Getting a chance to flex their tools while also attracting attention from people who might be able to compromise their anonymity. Then attacking some friendly governments to give those governments enough incentive to pile in and point out where the anonymity gaps are. Anonymity should emerge from all this much stronger and more capable. As for draconian laws, lets hope the politicians aren't all stupid enough to vote for them. Ah wait...

Re:There's no right to be anonymous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36528014)

That attitude is exactly WHY Anonymous and LulzSec are necessary. Are we just going to roll over and LET governments pass these asinine laws? Are we going to let the hypocrisy and stupidity of these insecure behemoths pass in silence? Speak truth to power, whether that's in the public OR PRIVATE sector. And if power doesn't listen when spoken to, DDoS the shit out of them.

Re:There's no right to be anonymous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36528418)

Certain elements want to let other elements believe they are anonymous in order to secure up other certain vulnerable elements. At some point, its "pull the drain plug". But, they too, are known by some other elements. Eventually all drain plugs will be pulled. He who pulls the last drain plug wins.. \~o~/

Anonymity: an old solution to a new problem (1)

phatphoton (2099888) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526924)

Anonymity only has it's appeal (to me) because the information that is available to groups/people (the information that identifies who I really am, not just what I tell them) is wholly incomplete. If I could deal with internet interfaces as I dealt with friends or coworkers i.e. have an established, complete record of history, I would be fine with the amount of information I present. Since I am a curious person, and that search query for the anarchists cookbook five years ago was just to find out what the heck it was. It doesn't mean I'm building bombs. So don't judge me on an errant fluke of history. If the CIA walked in my door, or Google, or my ISP, and would like to discuss my shopping patterns, web browsing patterns, or anything, I WOULD LOVE THAT. THAT COULD HELP BOTH OF US. But instead they rely on collecting malformed traces and bits of information here and there. That's not me. So don't keep records of it.

Anonymity is in the long run an illusion (1)

spikkel (1958936) | more than 3 years ago | (#36526960)

Since you pay your internet bill to your ISP and they are forced to log everything, they can track you down really quick. If you on the otherside want some privacy you can make it really hard for them to find you by using proxyservers, thor network, etc. Always Sign messages with an alternate identity when protected and never use this identity if unprotected. If talking about private communication use signatures and encryption. And then there is a factor luck: how extremely carefull your are, your friends may be not so carefull and everybody makes mistakes sooner or later. But in the long run, if they want to track you nomatter what, they can, and they will find you. The only thing you can do is discourage them.

Re:Anonymity is in the long run an illusion (2)

nikunj (40577) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527228)

You do mean 'tor' and are not referring to _the_ god-access heavenly network right :-)

Re:Anonymity is in the long run an illusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36527282)

I have never paid for WiFi, an ISP or Internet. I buy different wireless cards with cash at stores. I use different open (and closed) access points.

I do have one computer that is non-anonymous, that I use for banking, Facebook, e-mail...

But, I have an old laptop that 'should' be untraceable (I have to watch out for security cameras), and it is very much like the ship in 'The Matrix'. Only plugging into the Matrix for a short period, and then getting turned off. Never the same place most of the time. Sometimes thousands of miles away from the last location.

Espionage outfits must love. (1)

vosester (1163269) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527266)

The perfect storm of apathy, lack of understating and short slightness of the masses, what I find ever funnier was that some people thought the internet was going to be different, Books, Radio,TV all get controlled in the end, well it will be a little bit different, there will be two internet’s.

One that is corporate/government approved and the crypto-anarchy overlay. They will keep pushing the line until people have had enough, but by then it will be to late for the masses to catch up.

Re:Espionage outfits must love. (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527530)

If there is ever going to be a corporate/government approved internet someone will have to lrn2sec. Otherwise they will be pwnd regularly by every teenager who fancies having a go. There are millions of them in the world and the more power gets concentrated in the hands of the few, the more the discontented will be keen to watch it all burn down for the lulz. The more people's power is taken away the less investment they have in playing nicely.

dogs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36527436)

it's true: on the internet, not only do a lot of people know you're a dog, they know whether you eat your own dog food (and how much you pay for it, and what you buy at the same time, and...)

Getting closer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36527586)

http://www.answerbag.co.uk/profile/335931/ - I would check your email for messages

There's a conflict between anonymity and (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527614)

transparency.

On the internet, people now know you're a dog (1)

bobschneider8 (878023) | more than 3 years ago | (#36527918)

NT

can't have it both ways (1)

robmclarty (2211220) | more than 3 years ago | (#36528108)

If information naturally wants to be free, then it will necessarily kill anonymity. If it's on the internet (read: information is stored in digital format in some network accessible database) it's simply too easy for it to be copied and spread and revealed. If you want to remain anonymous, stay off the internet. If you want to participate in the internet, you gotta accept that whatever you do, however tightly held to your chest, will eventually leak and be exposed to the rest of the network.

And I don't think that this phenomenon is necessarily a bad thing.

Starting off on the wrong foot (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#36528450)

theorists fretted that the Internet was a place where anonymity thrived

Wait, why would they fret over that? Why is it presumed to be a bad thing?
Me thinks the whole article starts off from a really biased angle full of misconceptions.

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