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Do You Need to Surf Anonymously?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the don't-forget-to-wear-sneakers dept.

Privacy 301

An anonymous reader writes "Computerworld has up an article entitled 'How to Surf Anonymously without a Trace'. It purports to offer tips on how to avoid detection by anyone attempting to monitor your internet access. 'If you don't like the limitations imposed on you by [proxy] sites like the Cloak or would simply prefer to configure anonymous surfing yourself, you can easily set up your browser to use an anonymous proxy server to sit between you and the sites you visit. To use an anonymous proxy server with your browser, first find an anonymous proxy server. Hundreds of free, public proxy servers are available, but many frequently go offline or are very slow. Many sites compile lists of these proxy servers, including Public Proxy Servers and the Atom InterSoft proxy server list.'"

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tited information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18333717)

should be titled: information that everyone already knew...
next topic: how to send email

Public Proxy != Anonymous (5, Informative)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333727)

Do you know who owns it? Do you know what kind of logs they keep? Do you know who else reads their logs? Seems to me like a terribly good way to fish for undesireables would be to setup an "anonymous" proxy and wait for people to start using it. I mean, its not like police go out and pretend to be hookers to catch 'johns', or pretend to be dealers to catch users, or even pretend to be young children to catch pedophiles. If you don't own it, you can't trust it, and if you do own it then its not terribly anonymous. Even the whole onion router business has come into question as of late.

Not a whole lot of anonymous anything left on the internet these days with all the data mining that goes on. The best you can do is leech wireless and pretend to be someone else.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (-1, Offtopic)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333843)

I don't know why people need to surf anonymously.

I think in most cases it's because they are embarrassed in what they are doing.

So if you are doing something that you don't want people to know you are doing, my question is, what the hell is wrong with you?

If your married, and your wife doesn't want you looking at porn, then she should offer alternatives or shut up.

If your a pedophile, then I hope you get arrested, because that is what you deserve.

Why do people do things anonymously that they wouldn't do if their name was stamped on it? I think the world would be a lot better place if everyone took responsibility for what they said and what they did.

It's like Hawkeye Pierce said, "there should be a rule in war that before you kill somebody you have to get to know them.".

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (0, Flamebait)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333975)

Firstly, that Hawkeye quote has nothing to do with what you're saying, and what you're saying is absolute rubbish. You're part of the problem.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333987)

I think in most cases it's because they are embarrassed in what they are doing.

Or they don't trust their carrier. Go hop on a Comcast connection and spend some time searching for DOCSIS UNCAPPING and see what happens.

I put a bunch of invisible HTML tags between the above capitalized letters....

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (0, Troll)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334083)

You sure that works? So what happens if someone spams DOC SIS UNCAP PING everywhere?

Just like the good old +++ATH0<cr> days of crappy modems.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (4, Insightful)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334119)

You probably don't mind the government illegally tapping your phone either. I mean, if you're not doing anything wrong, why does it matter?

I am a law-abiding citizen, and I still demand my privacy rights. I don't want anyone monitoring the trail of web sites I visit daily, no more than I would like someone following me around in a car while I run run my daily errands.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (2, Insightful)

wikdwarlock (570969) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334767)

Unfortunately, you don't have any rights to privacy in the US. This is a common misconception. You do make a good point, though, that we should all DEMAND it as a right, and hopefully cause a legal change to take effect.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18334185)

s/your/you're/

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (5, Insightful)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334199)

So if you are doing something that you don't want people to know you are doing, my question is, what the hell is wrong with you?
I'm in China and I'm researching about local groups who campaign for democracy, you insensitive clod!

And given what's happening to privacy and protest in some Western countries. soon the same reasons may apply there too.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (1)

neonfrog (442362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334583)

Isn't it true that until you personalize the protest (actually become a visible or known protester), there is actually no real protest to respond to?

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18334669)

Well, the good news is the proxies aren't really private, but they're most likely good enough to avoid the Chinese censors. For now... We really need to stand up to multinationals enforcing immoral censorship. Google, Yahoo, et all are as guilty as sin. But the good news is people like you, and my army of like minded souls are fighting the good fight.

posting anonymously in the hope that they haven't compromised slashdot.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (5, Interesting)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334245)

Have you considered that there might be political reasons? Let's say I work for a rabid Bush supporter, do I want him to know that I'm a regular on the Daily Kos even though it's not forbidden to go there on my lunch break? Do I want my ISP to know what sort of games I like to play at home? Do I want you to see all of my browsing habits so that you can harass me based on what you know?

How about a battered wife looking for a way out of her marriage, and a husband who clams to be able to read whatever she writes? (for the record, this really happened to someone I know, but luckily she's free of him now)

There will always be cases where you don't want people to know what you're doing. Many of these cases are legitimate interests in preserving mere privacy, and some are because there really is avoiding oppression.

Pot, meet kettle; kettle, pot. (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334269)

Why do people do things anonymously that they wouldn't do if their name was stamped on it? I think the world would be a lot better place if everyone took responsibility for what they said and what they did.

Ironic, particularly since you're writing under a pseudonym. Or is "TheRecklessWanderer" what it says on your birth certificate? I didn't think so.

Anonymous systems are needed to combat the ease with which modern technology would allow someone to compile a dossier on another person's entire life and activities -- an ability which was never present in the past.

In the pre-computer (or at least, pre-networked-computers) era, it was fairly safe to use your real name everywhere, because it would take an immense amount of effort for someone else to go around and link together all the various activities you were doing under that name. If the fellow behind the counter at the grocery store knew your name, and you also used your name when you were at your local religious group's meeting, it didn't matter, because there was no connection between the two. Short of following you around town and then asking everyone, using your real name didn't mean giving anything up.

However, today, using your real name everywhere creates a near-unique primary key that someone else could easily use to search, and find out everything about you. To continue the example from above, they could simply run a search on your name, and with far less effort than following you around, find out everything they wanted to know about you, because virtually everything is online, and the indexes are only getting more and more complete.

Online anonymity systems aren't borne out of a desire to have more anonymity than we used to have, they're -- for many people, anyway -- an attempt to recapture the way things were, before it was possible to assemble a dossier about anyone else, just by Googling their name.

I don't think there's any reason why the people reading what I write on Slashdot, need to know who I am in real life. Likewise, I wouldn't go around advertising where I go to church to everyone in the grocery store. It's just not relevant to my interaction with them. They don't need to know. If they do, they could ask, and I could tell them, but that's none of their business, frankly. Anonymity and pseudonymity are simply attempts to not allow the traditional compartmentalization of our lives to be completely undone via massive searchable indexes and databases.

(Apologies if this got posted twice -- something has been causing /. to act very strangely for the last few minutes.)

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (4, Insightful)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334275)

So if you are doing something that you don't want people to know you are doing, my question is, what the hell is wrong with you?

Carlos mencia [wikipedia.org] said it better, if your going to the store to buy dog food, vaseline, and condoms, then you better pay cash. Otherwise why care who tracks your credit card purchases.

Just a credit card number is mostly useless, or just a password, or just a email address. Watch my surfing enough, I'll drop enough information to scam me good. If you can't tie my surfing to one person/business it's not so valuable. Tie all the web info from a company together you'll learn what paths their thinking of following, and you can take some of the profit for yourself for the idea.

Also sometimes you realize your actions may be legit, but may draw undo attention. Maybe you want to buy your wife flowers and choclates for a suprise, but she may assume your having a affair. Or maybe your writing a fiction story about someone who murders their wife, but it may never get finished. Or maybe your blowing the whistle on someone really powerfull...

Thier are lots of obvious times to not be tracked that are legit, writers/reporters are the most obvious, now everyone with internet access becomed a published writer in minutes.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (3, Informative)

Zonk (troll) (1026140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334289)

I don't know why people need to surf anonymously.
At home I rarely surf anonymously. However, when I'm at a hotel, coffee shop, on campus, etc I always browse anonymously. If I'm doing casual browsing I'm using either JAP [tu-dresden.de] or Tor+Privoxy. If I'm logging in to, say, Gmail or Slashdot I OpenVPN into my home network and browse from there.

You never know who's monitoring you, especially on an open wifi network.

Also, if you're using Tor or JAP it's a good idea to also run Adblock+ (use easylist [adblockplus.org] and add the tracking filter), Flashblock, and Noscript to make sure you keep your anonymity.

So if you are doing something that you don't want people to know you are doing, my question is, what the hell is wrong with you?
Please post your full name, address, pictures of yourself and your family, and a full log of everything you've done in the last month. Don't want to? What are you trying to hide?

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334359)

So if you are doing something that you don't want people to know you are doing, my question is, what the hell is wrong with you?

Have you ever typed in your PIN at an ATM? Do you want all the identity thieves to know what numbers you're typing? No? Then what the hell is wrong with you?

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (2, Interesting)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334415)

Actually, I could care less about who knows what I am doing, I am not doing anything illegal, I am not looking at porn (it just does not have the same affect anymore after looking at it for 2 years on a daily basis for 8 or 9 hours a day as part of my job enforcing an ISP AUP). What I do have a problem with are entities using my information for profit, and I really do not need the gov or any other private entity knowing what I am doing. If they want to know, they can ask me.
Back to the proffit issue, if anyone is going to make money selling my viewing/buying habbits (which many sites do), its going to be me. I do not need those damn statistics sites that almost every damn web page has selling my info....

Anonymousity (3, Informative)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334585)

Why do people do things anonymously that they wouldn't do if their name was stamped on it? I think the world would be a lot better place if everyone took responsibility for what they said and what they did.

I don't know about you but I don't want any government tracking me or monitoring what I say or where I go, online or offline. If a person is concerned about who's taking note of what they say then they won't exercise political speech freely.

Falcon

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (3, Insightful)

rilister (316428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334839)

...Says an "Anonymous Coward".
This is either Twain-level satire or the most self-defeating comment ever on Slashdot. And, heaven knows, there's some pretty stiff competition.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (2, Insightful)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333861)

And even better, if you're using a web proxy then your ISP can still see what you're doing, after all your packets have to pass through their network first. They probably closely monitor anyone that they see connecting to an anonymous proxy, to see if you're doing anything they should cancel your connection for.

An anonymous proxy may make you anonymous to the final site, but both your ISP and the proxy know where you've been and when.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334061)

"They probably closely monitor anyone that they see connecting to an anonymous proxy"

My ISP doesn't even closely monitor whether my line is up or down. Look at Comcast, I just got an email from 24 seconds in the future. They can't even manage NTP on their email servers, how could they claim to be keeping accurate logs?

Instead of logging HTTP traffic, the ones who really know what you're doing are a) search engines, and b) DNS servers. Just knowing what names you are looking up would give me more information in a lot less space than logging megabytes of flash.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334361)

Except if you're using an anonymous proxy the search queries and DNS queries are likely to be anonymised by it too.

Though again the ISP and proxy can both log this info easily.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (3, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334501)

This is what Privoxy and certain Firefox extensions are for; they catch the outgoing DNS requests and make sure that they're relayed (in encrypted form) to the proxy as well, so that you're not giving away the addresses of the pages you're requesting by leaking DNS requests.

IMO, all software ought to proxy DNS requests automatically if it's being told to use a proxy that supports DNS resolution (SOCKS4a or SOCKS5); that Firefox and some other software leak requests even in the presence of a proxy that's capable of doing it, is a serious bug and security flaw.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334789)

Also useful, besides anonymous proxies, are distorting proxies. They announce that you're surfing through a proxy, but they still mask your IP. I made good use of both a while back. Colbert Report fans probably remember his contest to get a bridge named after him. I was one of the people who wrote scripts to help him win (I think I was the only one with a Jon Stewart script, too, and got Jon up to second place). You had to vote with a unique email address and confirm the link that they send, so I wrote a script that automated the process (thank you, sendmail and wget!). Proxies were necessary because when they figured out that emails from a given domain were sending an unusual amount of registrations/votes, they'd block the domain and the IP address its connections were coming from.

The experience makes me definitely second what the OP said about proxies being unreliable. I ended up having to not only have a system that would detect when my domain name was blocked and re-register domains (using a bit of wget magic), but also have a script that would constantly check to see if my proxies were alive. Whichever ones died, the script had to go back to a proxy list site, and (using a bit of trickier wget magic, since the listed IPs were images to discourage scripts like mine) grab new ones. I initially tried running without this, but I quickly discovered that 90% of the time, when a connection that was working fine wouldn't work any more, it wasn't that the voting site blocked me: it was that the proxy was down. The average proxy probably worked for perhaps ten hours, and of the proxies on the list (narrowed down by ones that supported POST -- which was, sadly, perhaps only 10% of them), only about one in four worked at all.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334909)

They probably closely monitor anyone that they see connecting to an anonymous proxy, to see if you're doing anything they should cancel your connection for.

They most certainly don't. That would open them to an enormous liability. As soon as they start looking at traffic, they become responsible for enforcing regulations upon ALL users. If they screw up and miss something, they are now legally responsible. Who the hell would want to expose themselves to that kind of liability?

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (3, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333863)

Or hack into somebody's wide-open box (usually Windows) and run your proxy daemon. It seems to keep the spammers safe.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334051)

If you don't own it, you can't trust it

Yeah, I have a friend who accidentally ran an open proxy server and made the lists. He found out about it when a police department supeanoed his logs.

I said, "my goodness - a police department that prosecutes online crime!"

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (1)

bumby (589283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334089)

If you own the proxy yourself, you can still be anonymous - by making it public. Then there is no way to tell if you are the one who used it or anyone else.
Of course, if everyone who wanted to be anonymous would do this, everyone would know that every public proxy were only used by the owner itself, and then the whole thing would go moot.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334611)

If you own the proxy yourself, you can still be anonymous - by making it public. Then there is no way to tell if you are the one who used it or anyone else.

They actually make this point in most of the setup guides for the Tor software; you gain an additional level of anonymity (or at least plausible deniability) if you make your node public and let other people use it as part of the greater Tor network.

However, this increase in protection has to be balanced against the necessarily increased risk that as a result, you might draw fire from the authorities, not as a result of what you're doing, but as a result of what someone else is using you're network for. It would be a problem if you opened the network up in order to protect yourself, and instead ended up getting your systems confiscated and analyzed as a result of someone else's activities (e.g. child porn) ... but then got arrested for whatever you were trying to keep under wraps (say, anti-DMCA software development) just the same.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334343)

The best you can do is leech wireless and pretend to be someone else.

you are 1/2 way there. First use a OS that allows you to change your MAC address, BEFORE you ever go online and do things you dont want traced to you, CHANGE YOUR MAC ADDRESS. in fact I reccomend changing it every time you go online. That is what they are looking to trace because the data mining guys still think that it's a unique identifier. Second you need to use a browser that allows you to change it's identifier and allow you to destroy all cookies every session. Honestly changing your identifier on a regular basis a little bit and getting rid of cookies does help a LOT. last thing you need is having a doubleckick cookie ratting on you.

Do those and NEVER use a network that is tied to you. This is all really basic dont get caught hacker stuff guys.

Change MAC when renewing DHCP? (2, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334551)

I wonder if anyone has a script that would automatically change your reported MAC address to a random (but valid) value, every 24 hours or so, or when the DHCP releases and renews.

Doesn't seem like it would really be all that hard on a Linux/BSD system, no idea what it requires on Windows to script that sort of thing.

Re:Change MAC when renewing DHCP? (1)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334711)

Under Windows you can just put that program in the Start menu.

Re:Change MAC when renewing DHCP? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18334883)

Sweet! so putting a BSD program under the start menu will make it change automatically on every DHCP renew? cool!

I love it when IT experts like you post!

Re:Change MAC when renewing DHCP? (1)

Crizp (216129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335001)

Google for a program that sets your MAC address. Run that program with necessary parameters in rc.local or read the man page for cron and add a job that runs every x hours...

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334939)

Umm... MACs do not pass over the Internet. The only place your MAC is visible is at the first hop, inside your ISP.

Re:Public Proxy != Anonymous (2, Insightful)

TheLastUser (550621) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334971)

I didn't think that the mac went beyond the local net, its not part of ip packets. So changing it might theoretically prevent your local provider from tracking you. But then they know what port you are coming from and can always sniff that.

Am I off base here?

What if you're already behind a proxy server (2, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333731)

That doesn't allow you to see ComputerWorld sites?

What I need is a meta-surfer, a free port 80 VPN with a built in browser on the client side....maybe one day I'll build one myself.

Re:What if you're already behind a proxy server (1)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333889)

How's this? [whitefyre.com] . Put it on your external server under a UN/PW and on https, and you have yourself a free dedicated locally anonymizing proxy that will work through existing filtering proxies, and not permit them to sniff any of your traffic or even know what you're doing thanks to the https. The admins of the filtering proxy won't even be able to tell that it IS a proxy since they won't have your UN/PW. All they'll know is that you're doing a certain amount of https traffic to this external IP.

Re:What if you're already behind a proxy server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18333945)

Is it really that hard to type out "username/password"?

Re:What if you're already behind a proxy server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18334207)

Does it really matter since you understood what he was saying?

Starting at the desktop (2, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333751)

The question is, how does one surf anonymously at work when you're forced to use your employer's proxy to get through the firewall. Tried configuring Tor to encrypt and hide my queries before the ISA proxy ever saw them, but never could figure out how to get FireFox to work with it, nor find any Tor help sites or discussion groups for what should be a simple enough question.

Re:Starting at the desktop (3, Informative)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334079)

Here's how: google for 'nph-proxy.cgi' and then find one that uses https. Your employer will only see an ssl connection being made to the same server over and over.

Re:Starting at the desktop (2, Informative)

Zonk (troll) (1026140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334503)

Check Peacefire [peacefire.org] . Every week or so on the mailing list they announce a new web-based proxy. The current one is StupidCensorship.com [stupidcensorship.com] . The code is available so you can run your own "proxy."

Still, your employer probably keeps logs. If you really must visit sites that you don't want your employer to know about (ie, jobsearch), do it sparingly or just wait until you get home. You could also set up OpenVPN and run that over a proxy server and browse from your home network.

Re:Starting at the desktop (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334975)

The question is, how does one surf anonymously at work when you're forced to use your employer's proxy to get through the firewall.

Ssh into your box at home and use freenx (or regular x-forwarding if your latency is low enough). Then just use it as if you were browsing at home.

Surf? No. Steal? Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18333757)



Surf? No. Steal? Yes!

You got proxy, kid (3, Insightful)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333801)

Seems to me like proxy servers just replace Big Brother knowing everything you do with some tiny "anonymous browsing" site. And you are willfully giving them all this information to boot, so if they decide to turn over all their logs there isn't a thing you could do.

Single point of failure. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334399)

Seems to me like proxy servers just replace Big Brother knowing everything you do with some tiny "anonymous browsing" site. And you are willfully giving them all this information to boot, so if they decide to turn over all their logs there isn't a thing you could do.

Hence why the folks behind Tor developed onion routing systems in the first place. They're not foolproof, but they don't place all your trust on the administrator of one server. They spread the trust out among a bunch of servers, such that your enemy would need to compromise a large number of them in order to monitor what you're doing.

When you're just using a single proxy, you're probably making it easier for someone to track you, because you're purposely pushing all your traffic through one choke-point. All your adversaries need to do is apply the correct combination of subpoenas, bags of cash, or hot pokers to that proxy's operator, and they've got you.

Single-relay proxies aren't suitable for anything except schoolkids trying to get around the local MySpace block. To be honest, I'm not even sure Tor is really ready for prime-time, either, but it's probably the best thing going.

Why, what do you have to hide? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18333809)

To those who would surf anonymously, I can only ask: why do you hate freedom?

Re:Why, what do you have to hide? (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334021)

It's the Muslim terrorists who want to destroy the infidel west. Anonymously.

Nothing that I am aware of (1)

Cracked Pottery (947450) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334297)

Do you think that when the busybodies with control agendas get their hands on a database of records of web visits, they are only going to just look for terrorists and child molesters? People have been sold a bill of goods to surrender their right out of fear. You think that hard core law enforcement types will have restraint when they get their hands on large amounts of private email, for example? The answers to that quiz are both no.

Re:Nothing that I am aware of (2, Funny)

jjsavage (1075197) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334873)

I'm not sure what the FBI would do with all of my private e-mail, but if being reminded to pick up milk on the way home from work is a crime, I should be on death row by now.

It is illegal to ... (4, Insightful)

boxlight (928484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333823)

It is illegal for a library to keep a record of the books you have checked out after they're returned.
It should also be illegal for your ISP to record your browsing history.
It's about privacy and freedom.

Re:It is illegal to ... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18333911)

So... How the boy sex thing going for you?

Re:It is illegal to ... (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334023)

> It is illegal for a library to keep a record of the books you have checked out after they're returned.

Until there's one law which applies to everyone on the planet, this statement is meaningless. Certainly in the UK libraries know who has checked out books in the past, otherwise they'd be unable to determine who damaged them.

Re:It is illegal to ... (3, Informative)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334559)

Most libraries in the US make it a point to get rid of any data linking a book to a patron once the book's returned, especially since the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act (which requires them to turn over such data to the government if they're asked for it, but doesn't require them to actually keep the data in the first place). However, I'm not aware of any state that actually makes it illegal to keep such data. I've got tens of thousands of old books with cards listing everyone who checked them out within a certain time period, before there were computers to track such things, and it's certainly not illegal to have these. The law in my state does make it illegal to turn over these records to anyone who doesn't have a court order to see them, but just keeping them isn't illegal. In fact, I'd say the Justice Department would probably like it very much if it was actually required to keep the records forever. Or, you know, turn them over to be put in a federal database every time a book is checked out, so they could do some datamining to find potential terrorists.

cite please (4, Informative)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334057)

you claim It is illegal for a library to keep a record of the books you have checked out after they're returned

I say, you should be right, but you are completely wrong.
try this http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=fbi+library+r ecords [google.com]

so, if you have a citation to back up your assertion, please, supply the citation.
I say, you are flat out wrong.

Re:cite please (2, Informative)

tiltowait (306189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334733)

Here ya go [ala.org] , 48 State Privacy Laws Regarding Library Records. Since the USA PATRIOT Act (and in the 1970s during the FBI's "Library Awareness" investigations), however, federal law (NSA letters, for example) can trump these statutes. So the OP is partially right.

Librarians learned in the 60s not to keep patron records like this. It turns us in to sleeper agents for a snooping government. Pre-9/11 this was the widespread sentiment [webjunction.org] too.

I guess that the 9/11 hijackers used library computers [firstmonday.org] doesn't help, nor does the current "Library 2.0" movement to offer customized [libraryjuicepress.com] services.

Re:cite please (1)

be951 (772934) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334791)

It is possible that some state laws preclude the state's public libraries from retaining records of materials checked out by patrons. More likely, though, individual libraries (or cooperatives/whatever, e.g. at the county level) would set the policy on record retention. I've been told that my local public library does not keep a record of who has previously checked out an item once it has been returned (in usable condition) and checked back in (unless there is an overdue fine, in which case the details remain in the system along with the fine information until the charge is resolved).


And it doesn't make much sense for libraries to retain all that data anyway. What would be the benefit? Usually when a company collects that kind of data, it is for targetted marketing of new/different services based on inferred customer preferences. For a company, this usually means more (often premium) revenue. For a library, it sounds like a lot of extra work and resources for perhaps a small gain in usage. Their marketing dollars are probably much better spent bringing in new users than trying to get a little more from current users.

Re:It is illegal to ... (3, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334167)

Libraries are run by the government, which you are in a relationship with by fiat.

Private enterprises (an ISP) are free to impose any demands they like (as long as the government agrees)

Re:It is illegal to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18334435)

It is illegal for a library to keep a record of the books you have checked out after they're returned.

Hello, boxlight! Welcome back to Amazon.com!

Based on your past purchases, you might be interested in the following:

The Anarchist's Cookbook by William Powell ($12.99 / Ships in 24 hours)
Protocols of the Elders of Zion by (Author unknown) ($14.99 / Out of stock - backordered)
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume ($8.99 / Ships in 24 hours)

Re:It is illegal to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18334447)

It's about privacy and freedom.

For you and me and the rest of the subject class, but for the power elite (the people who actually control government) it's about expanding and concentrating power as much as possible while keeping the image of privacy and freedom.

public proxies? (3, Informative)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333855)

Meh. There are enough good alternatives: TOR, I2P Freenet (if they ever make a useful thing out of it, because after more then 5 years development, they fall kinda short. Maybe things will get better with their Openet, though - but when will that happen?).

Anyway, public proxies are only haphazard and temporary solutions, and not very good ones at that. First of all, they're often unreachable, unusable or slow. Secondly, you never know WHICH proxy you actually use; I mean; who owns the damn thing? What does he log?

Ofcourse, with enough proxies to choose from, and trying out at randomn, it may be a small chance that you end up with someone that actually makes your privacy more in danger, but still... The systems mentionned above (include JAP to that) are much safer for anonymous browsing.

Re:public proxies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18333915)

inurl:nph-proxy.pl -- if you're just looking for a quick fix use that in Google.

Should retitle it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18333871)

To post on slashdot anonymously (by cycling proxies).

Just because you asked.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18333877)

....yes.

Any other time, the answer would be "not really".

Useless for "normal" users (3, Insightful)

gatorflux (759239) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333879)

Anyone who has ever needed this capability already knew how to do it. The article will undoubtedly lead to many "normal" users trying it out and inevitably deciding it is a waste of time. The majority of proxy servers are as slow as molasses since the adult site crackers are running all their scripts through them. You have to be pretty dedicated to actually use these servers on a regular basis.

A good resource for anonymizers (1)

gozu (541069) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333921)

It's tough to find good anonymizing proxies, especially all-purpose socks proxies. However, for your browsing needs, there is a decent list of webproxies at this website [freeproxy.ru] as well as some lists of socks but I can't really vouch for those.

I personally have used anonymouse. It has an annoying popup and can be fairly slow and has sketchy cookies support (which can be a drag for messageboard use) but it's reliable enough for the occasional session.

Carnivore lives (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333931)

It doesn't take too much paranoia to realize that some percentage of the public proxies are undoubtably controlled by spooks running some carnivore type software. The only surefire way to access the internet anonymously is through open WiFi APs.

Re:Carnivore lives (1)

sco_robinso (749990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334461)

Agreed. With the advent of cheap, public Wifi, it's incredibly easy to go sit outside someone's house for a while whilst you surf. At best, all that might be traced in a SOHO router is your MAC and your computer's network name. Even then, most network card's drivers come with MAC spoofers built right in, and naming your computer to something benign is easy. If I really wanted to surf anonymously, this would probably be my method of choice.

I might be a little hesitant to do it at a Starbucks or a public library or something, as they would likely have slightly better means of tracking and logging. Anywhere 'public' and you might risk putting your face on a camera.

Personally, I don't have anything to hide, but I still set Firefox to delete all private data upon close.

Anonymity is somewhat overrated. (4, Insightful)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 7 years ago | (#18333951)

Yes, defending your own brand of craziness from the craziness of others is sometimes important, and for that reason and many others, anonymity can be very important in a civilized society. But I think it is somewhat overused on the internet.

The other half of the anonymity consideration though is that when everyone gets used to only having 'full' freedom when cloaked from the sight of others, they begin to accept a greater lack of freedom in their 'real' lives. That's why I don't choose anonymity whenever I can - I want my mistakes to be my own, and when I discuss, for instance, digital freedoms, I don't want to hide behind the ubiquitous pseudonyms we've all grown so used to while doing so.

I don't want to 'get away' with looking into for 'bad things' - I want REAL people to be free to do what they want. Of course, I, like everyone else, have some things I'm not going to disclose, and would like to have anonymity available - but I'd much rather push for less need to hide things, rather than disappear behind a fake name most of my online life.

Ryan Fenton

Re:Anonymity is somewhat overrated. (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334497)

The other half of the anonymity consideration though is that when everyone gets used to only having 'full' freedom when cloaked from the sight of others, they begin to accept a greater lack of freedom in their 'real' lives. That's why I don't choose anonymity whenever I can - I want my mistakes to be my own, and when I discuss, for instance, digital freedoms, I don't want to hide behind the ubiquitous pseudonyms we've all grown so used to while doing so.

I don't want to 'get away' with looking into for 'bad things' - I want REAL people to be free to do what they want. Of course, I, like everyone else, have some things I'm not going to disclose, and would like to have anonymity available - but I'd much rather push for less need to hide things, rather than disappear behind a fake name most of my online life.

Ah, the transparent society [wikipedia.org] idea.

It will be great once it gets here. It will finally dispel the tribalist us-versus-other idea, by showing that nobody is 'normal'. But until that day arrives, it'll be hell to be one of the transparent forerunners. After all, when you are transparent but they are not, then they will subconsciously and automatically seize the opportunity to persecute you.

Don't need anonymity... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18334103)

Why would anyone need to access the web anonymously?

If there are lists ... (1)

AmIAnAi (975049) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334131)

surely the security agencies will be monitoring traffic directed at them. Maybe I'm missing something here, but if the proxy server is 'published' on the net, its not really anonymous, since security agencies, police etc. can monitor who is surfing through them.

Re:If there are lists ... (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334945)

Sure, but if they sniff your traffic what they'll see is you going to the anonymous server over and over. It doesn't really tell them anything beyond the fact that you're browsing, since the proxy server buffers the http requests.

honestly... I was thinking about this (0, Redundant)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334135)

and the only time the average user would need to surf anonymous is when he/she knows he is doing something wrong. I mean, i'm not trying to start anything here, but rather understand WHY you would need to do this. Obviously we have 'pr0n viewing' at work, and stalking ex's and whathave you...
 
So... what legitamate uses can it have? And if you say "I just want to do it so that I can be tracked by flashing ads, you better have epilepsy.

Re:honestly... I was thinking about this (5, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334407)

Ah, the classic fascist question (What do you have to hide, my slave.). Despite the obvious fact that you don't own me, and have no right to even ask the question, I will reply, in 4 parts:

1st: Throughout history, there have been wonderfull governments, but also some horrible governments. And even the Wonderfull Governments often keep records, that get passed on to their replacement, horrible governments when the evil SOB's have revolution. Governments have in the past killed people for: Being Jewish. Being Gay. Belonging to a political party that objected to that government. Asking if the government had killed other people. Being a family member of any of the above people. Looking at Pornography. While I trust (just barely) the current government, I do not trust the unknown government that will take power in 4 years, because I don't know who they are yet.

2nd: If you have nothing to hide, then that quite literally means you are willing to let me photograph you naked? And I get full rights to that photograph - so I can show it to your neighbors?

Because THAT is what you are saying. You DO have things you do not want people to see. So do I. Yours might be your pretty body. Mine might be the fact that I am gay. And a member of the legalize marijuana political action group. And a member of the "Send the Africans back to Africa" Charity. Also, I routinely travel 56 mph in a 55 mph zone. And get drunk 1/month in my closet. And I once masturbated while looking at pictures of dead dogs. And I collect my own snot and eat it. I still wet my bed. I won't do business with those dirty, thieving Jews. And I am a card carrying member of the ACLU. And I despise children. All of these things are legal (or at least not serious crimes worthy of being investigated). Now, assuming I was not being sarcastic, do you think I would have a job tomorrow if my boss knew them?

3rd consider this: I have a right to privacy, not because I have things to hide, but because trust is a two way street. Think about a parent. What would you think of a father that says "My honor student has never done anything wrong. But just to be 'sure', I hired a private investigator to follow them around all the time, sneak into his bedroom at night and check his computer, diary, underwear draw" It takes WAY too much effort and cost for the government to actually fairly investigate everyone. So we tell them that if they want to investigate people, they must prove it to a judge that they are worth investigating. If the cop can't do that, then THE COPS ARE THE SICKO PERVERTS. Just like the dad/mom that treated their honor student like a gangbanger, if the government does the same to us, THEY demonstrate that they are A) poor government, B) can't be trusted themselves and C) have serious emotional problems.

4th: The last, best argument is simple. Every test has a false positive rate as well as a false negative rate. If you test too many people, you end up convicting the innocent more than the guilty. I.E. if you have a test that 5% of the time falsely says "drug user" even if they are not, and use it on a population where only 1% of the people use drugs, than you arrest, charge and try 5 innocent people for every 1 guilty. Those innocent had nothing to hide. Hackers break into your computer, zombifie it and use it to store child porn. You don't know about this, till the police track down your computer as the server for a child porn ring, break down your door and arrest you. (Several cases like this exist).

Here is one reason (2, Insightful)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334557)

Amazon has admitted to experimenting with "targeted" pricing, that is they track their customers, and raise or lower the price to what they think that person will pay. Based on browsing history, you can make pretty good guesses as to what a person really wants and what their income is. When we loose our anonymity, this kind of scenario becomes possible. Thus, any service that helps maintain internet anonymity is a good thing (tm)

However, more fundamentally, the answer is: it does not matter. I am innocent until proven guilty.

Re:honestly... I was thinking about this (2, Insightful)

End Program (963207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334597)

the only time the average user would need to surf anonymous is when he/she knows he is doing something wrong.

What about someone doing a search about a medical problem or depression?

What about political dissent?

What about searching for a new job?

What about a whistleblower going to a Gov website to report abuse of gov contracts?

etc...

Re:honestly... I was thinking about this (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334805)

What is considered "wrong" in some countries is not the same as others. You might be surprised.

Re:honestly... I was thinking about this (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334885)

the only time the average user would need to surf anonymous is when he/she knows he is doing something wrong...Obviously we have 'pr0n viewing' at work, and stalking ex's and whathave you...

It's all shades of grey, though. Ok, so you bring up "'pr0n viewing' at work", but what about "'pr0n viewing' at home"? I think this distinction is where the question begins: let's say you sometimes downloaded porn that wasn't illegal or even particularly awful (relative to... you know, porn in general), but you just didn't want some guy having a full record of every dirty movie and every dirty picture you'd downloaded.

Honestly, I don't see a great need for ways to bypass at-work web filtering, and I don't do anything online from home that I'm particularly ashamed of, but it's also just sort of creepy to think there are records of everything I do online. With every site I visit and every e-mail I send, there are growing logs that document all of it, and it's not clear to me who has access to those or what use someone might invent for that information. If nothing else, it's just unsettling. There are random people out there with random access to random pieces of my personal information, and I can't even know when that information has been accessed.

Ok, so that's not a huge problem, but it's a valid concern. And it doesn't even begin to get into people who are in a position to be compromised for voicing a political viewpoint. In every country, no matter how free, there are dangers inherent in voicing highly-upopular viewpoints. Sometimes those viewpoints still need to be voiced, but will only be under anonymous circumstances.

Re:honestly... I was thinking about this (1)

sckeener (137243) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335043)

the only time the average user would need to surf anonymous is when he/she knows he is doing something wrong. I mean, i'm not trying to start anything here, but rather understand WHY you would need to do this. Obviously we have 'pr0n viewing' at work, and stalking ex's and whathave you...

I can think of a few...Maybe the Fedex clerk wants to work for UPS. Or maybe you want to read up about Democrats at your mostly Republican company. Or maybe you or your girlfriend are up the duft and want to find out more about Plan Parenthood without fear that someday some Attorney General is going to make those records public. Or maybe some militia group is wanting to hold a meeting and some Attorney General is interested in the members of that militia (wants to track all those IPs.)

etc...etc..etc...

There are plenty of activities that are not illegal that a person could be interested in, but don't want to be dragged through the courts over for political reasons....

Do it with Google (2, Interesting)

SpaghettiCoder (1073236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334181)

OK, use a laptop. Connect to an open AP. Then log on to someone else's server with open telnet port. From there use a script with elinks/lynx/wget so that all requests for web content are made to Google's cache. I think this is reasonably safe.

MiM attack. (2, Insightful)

s31523 (926314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334191)

Seems like a great front for a Man in The Middle attack, except that rather then setting up tons of fake ARP packets you get people to come to your site. Brilliant! Why not just use the coffee shop in the town next to you, and reprogram your MAC address to.

Why? Some U.S. web sites disallow foreign access. (1)

homerdundas (1075169) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334253)

I remember when trying to download drivers from Adaptec I was barred from their FTP site. (Something about export of encription tecnology). Their server detected my IP address from Canada and threw me out. A proxy server did the trick. (And Canada *does* have a special agreement with U.S.A for this purpose, so throwing me out was just nasty anyway). P.S. The last time I tried it did work ok.

SOCKS Proxy (1)

BenjiTheGreat98 (707903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334477)

I use a SOCKS proxy using my computer at home and putty. It involves leaving your computer on at all time, which I normally do anyways. But if I am behind a restrictive firewall I connect using putty, which dynamically forward port 1080 to my linux box and then set firefox to use a SOCKS proxy at 127.0.0.1:1080 . It's just encrypted data after that and the firewalls cannot see the traffic.

Do You Need to Surf Anonymously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18334697)

Only if you are a coward.

It's not anonymous unless it's encrypted... (1)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 7 years ago | (#18334887)

Telling people "anonymous proxies" are useful to protect themselves is dangerously misleading. It'll prevent the destination website from finding out what your IP address is (maybe -- if you're not leaking that information some other way), but it'll do absolutely nothing to undermine the extensive network-level snooping going on nowadays. Your packets are still in the clear, readable, and sniffable at any point on the network; they're just taking a little detour through someone else's server so the destination site sees their IP instead of yours. If you're worried about the AT&T/NSA [slashdot.org] thing, or that your connection is being monitored directly [wikipedia.org] , this is completely useless.

I'd also not trust any of these companies like Anonymizer, the Cloak, &c.; who knows what they're doing with all the requests being forwarded through their servers?

Javascript is the key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18335025)

In TFA it says, "BrowserSpy delves even deeper into your system and even reports on whether you have certain software on your system, such as RealPlayer and Adobe Acrobat, including version information." Yet when I followed the link to this BrowserSpy thing, I found that much of the information it attempted to gather didn't work. It's all based on Javascript. While turning Javascript on and off all the time is a huge hassle, the NoScript [noscript.net] extension for FireFox makes it much, MUCH easier. Since it also works based on the source of the Javascript, not the source of the web page you're viewing, sites which display web pages pulling data from elsewhere (e.g., a web store that pulls in Javascript code from a DoubleClick server) can still work, even if the undesired code is still disabled.

I had an argument with a friend of mine about this. He claimed "the web is Javascript." I disagree; most things seem to work just fine with Javascript selectively enabled instead of universally enabled. A few broken web sites is a low enough cost for the increased safety margin.
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