On April 8, 2013, I received an envelope in the mail from a nonexistent return address in Toledo, Ohio. Inside was a blank thank-you note and an Ohio state driver’s license. The ID belonged to a 28-year-old man called Aaron Brown—6 feet tall and 160 pounds with a round face, scruffy brown hair, a thin beard, and green eyes. His most defining feature, however, was that he didn’t exist.
I know that because I created him.
During their Freedom Hosting
investigation and malware attack last year, the FBI unintentionally obtained the entire e-mail database of popular anonymous webmail service Tor Mail. And now, they've used it in an unrelated investigation to bust a Florida man accused of stealing credit card numbers
. [more inside]
is a simple web radio station. Its content is completely anonymous; upload a track, and it's on the radio, identified only by a numeric string. Don't like what you hear? Click 5TFU! and it's gone.
Managing Editor Jimmy Soni appeared on CNN Friday to explain The Huffington Post's latest effort to fight trolls: as of next month, commenters won't be allowed to post anonymously on the site.
"We're looking to promote civil discourse on our site," Soni said. "We want to do what we've always done: promote a positive, healthy community at our global news website."
"We feel like it reflects the maturing internet and our maturing website," he added.
In an essay for The New Inquiry, Moira Weigel and Mal Ahern consider The End of Men
, global recession era capitalism, and ironic sexism.
"Mancession Lit portrays the Man-Child as pitiful, contrasting him with women who are well-adjusted and adult. But it rarely acknowledges the real question that this odd couple raises. Namely, are women better suited to the new economy because they are easier to exploit?"
The Everyday Sexism Project
collects user-submitted reports from women to document their day-to-day experiences with normalized sexism, including sexual harassment and job discrimination. Entries can be submitted at the site, in an email to founder Laura Bates or to their twitter
account. [more inside]
It is June 2, 2010 and Mark Zuckerberg is sweating. He’s wearing his hoodie—he’s always wearing his hoodie—and he’s on stage and either the lights or the questions are too hot. … “Do you want to take off the hoodie?” asks Kara Swisher.
“I never take off the hoodie.”
The varied cultural resonances of an unassuming garment
Sumit Suman recently visited a site, did not sign up for anything, did not connect via social media, but got a personal email from the site the next day. Here’s how they did it.
Alcoholics Anonymous and similar 12-step programs have recently attracted calls to review their long-standing policies: supporting young people
, rethinking transphobia
, welcoming agnostic viewpoints
, and challenging the need for anonymity
. [more inside]
The Mommy-Fight Site.
What does it mean to raise a child in "America’s highest-income, best-educated Census area
? D.C. Urban Moms and Dads
might be as close as it gets to a field guide to parentis Washingtonianis
" [more inside]
Meet Your Neighbor, Thomas Pynchon
, From the November 11, 1996 issue of New York Magazine.
A column by John Brownlee over at Cult of Mac
yesterday highlighted his privacy concerns about the app Girls Around Me
-- which used a mashup of FourSquare check-ins, Google Maps and Facebook public profile information to show the user women who were nearby. In response to the story, Foursquare cut off the app's API access to their data
, effectively knocking it out of commission. CNET: How to prevent friends checking you into locations at Facebook Places
. [more inside]
The Gallery of Default Anonymity
What being nobody looks like all over the web.
We study techniques for identifying an anonymous author via linguistic stylometry, i.e., comparing the writing style against a corpus of texts of known authorship. We experimentally demonstrate the effectiveness of our techniques with as many as 100,000 candidate authors. [...] In over 20% of cases, our classiﬁers can correctly identify an anonymous author given a corpus of texts from 100,000 authors; in about 35% of cases the correct author is one of the top 20 guesses.On the Feasibility of Internet-Scale Author Identiﬁcation[pdf]
is a draft of a paper for the IEEE Symposium
on Security and Privacy. [more inside]
are the most valuable contributors to communities because they contribute the highest quantity and quality of comments." As anonymous
online contributors struggle to remain non-identifiable
, Disqus data show pseudonymous commenters are the best
. (most recently previously)
is an anonymous digital cash system
based upon the Lucre
anonymized cache cryptographic library. [more inside]
This past July, Forbes blogger Kashmir Hill posted a three-part series about "online defamation and involuntary nudity." The first entry
focused on an offender: Hunter Moore,
owner of IsAnyoneUp.com (Link is NSFW.)
The second entry
focused on a victim: Paul Syiek, whose company was defamed by a disgruntled ex-employee on the consumer website Rip-off Report
. The third
profiled a Senior Copyright attorney at Microsoft, Colette Vogele, who co-founded a side project this year to help victims: WithoutMyConsent.org
. [more inside]
On October 18, Wired embedded
a reporter with both Anonymous and the #Occupy movement, calling both "a new kind of hybrid entity, one that breaks the boundaries between “real life” and the internet, creatures of the network embodied as citizens in the real world." The first entries in Quinn Norton's ongoing special report: Anonymous 101: Behind the Lulz
were posted today. Coverage from Wired's other special report, Occupy: Dispatches from the Occupation
are already online. NPR: Members Of Anonymous Share Values, Aesthetics [more inside]
"You should have your tongue ripped out."
Female bloggers speak out about misogynist comments, rape threats and death threats. [more inside]
is an interesting proxy-less
anti-censorship system designed to combat state-level
). But would it cost too much
? Should we really trust "good" state-level actors with our anti-censorship efforts? And might
it divert resources from established anonymity projects, like T
, Freenet, etc.
GigaOM writer: "Anonymity has real value, both in comments and elsewhere."
In the wake of the faux lesbian Damascus blogger, the question over whether or not to allow anonymous comments is being raised again. Some claim anonymous comments allow for dissent and are essential to democracy. Other claim that that anonymous comments lead to harsher, uncivil conversation that serves nobody. [more inside]
Secret of AA: After 75 Years, We Don’t Know How It Works.
"There is evidence that a big part of AA’s effectiveness may have nothing to do with the actual (12) steps. It may derive from something more fundamental: the power of the group. The importance of this is reflected by the fact that the more deeply AA members commit to the group, rather than just the program, the better they fare." [more inside]
As Blizzard prepares for the next World of Warcraft expansion
, they are updating their server system, BattleNet, to use a real-name identification system called RealID
, allowing your friends -- and their friends -- to see your real name. Some like
it, some hate
it. The system is optional
; but today, Blizzard announced that all posts on their official forums will be under the poster's real name. [more inside]
A worrisome set of posts from Princeton University's 'Freedom to Tinker"
In many situations, it may be far easier to unmask apparently anonymous online speakers than they, I, or many others in the policy community have appreciated. Today, I'll tell a story that helps explain what I mean.
Second post: what BoingBoing knows about John Doe
. Third, and most concerning post: The traceability of an online anonymous comment
. Related post: a well researched review of the privacy concerns around the roll-out of, and push-back against, Google Buzz.
"Publishing anonymous, unvetted, and unreviewed commentary online
is hugely divergent from the policies of [mainstream media] publications' print editions. It's a different kettle of fish, one that can stink for the publishers. Indeed, those publishers and their new-media managers are being reckless." [more inside]
Chinese news site dispense with user anonymity.
Includes an updated list of sites China actively blocks, including Human Rights Watch
and Amnesty International
(?!? - both links work only outside of China). prev
Internet Anonymity: A Right of the Past? | North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology
A newly designed Internet Protocol, restricting communication source autonomy, is being quietly drafted with detailed technical standards that “define methods of tracing the original source of Internet communications and potentially curbing the ability of users to remain anonymous” by a United Nations agency. The “IP Traceback” drafting group, which has declined to release key documents or allow their meetings to be open to the public, includes, among others, the United States National Security Agency. [more inside]
In what has been described as "a major blow to online free speech in Canada"
, an Ontario court has ordered
the owners of FreeDominion.ca
to disclose all personal information on eight anonymous posters to the chat site - including email and IP addresses. [more inside]
The Anonymity Experiment
. Is it possible to hide in plain sight? Privacy-minded people have long warned of a world in which an individual’s every action leaves a trace, in which corporations and governments can peer at will into your life with a few keystrokes on a computer. Now one of the people in charge of information-gathering for the U.S. government says, essentially, that such a world has arrived.
of the sportswriting-mocking blog Fire Joe Morgan
have dropped their previous anonymity
. Among the blog's contributors was the late Robert Altman. [more inside]
anonymity is often a sure route to notoriety.
An article on anonymous authors from The Guardian.
This is an ironic tale of the consequences of inept application of cryptographic tools. Or is it?
Dan Egerstad, a Swedish hacker, gained access to hundreds of computer network accounts around the world, belonging to various embassies, corporations and other organizations. How did he do it? Very easily:
by sniffing exit traffic on his Tor
nodes. [more inside]
The Capitolist - Web 2.0 meets Capitol Hill
The Capitolist is an anonymous BBS for Capitol Hill staffers to post to, and the rest of us to read. Anyone coming from a Hill IP
can post anything they want: weird
, or the occasional full-blown cry in the wilderness
. There's even LOLcats
How long will it last? How far will it go? Hit refresh & find out!
You cannot guarantee freedom of speech and enforce copyright law.
Freenet is a decentralized censorship resistant p2p distributed network which aims to provide freedom of speech through strong anonymity. By pooling bandwidth and hard drive space (similar to Seti@home)
, users are able to anonymously publish and retrieve any kind of file.
A concerned reader in St. Louis just might be Dave Eggers.
A weekend glitch on Amazon Canada allowed people to see the true secret identities behind reviews on the site. [NYT Link]
The No Logs Network
is encouraging web hosts and system admins to refrain from keeping site access logs, saying their storage can constitute a threat to free speech
. It sounds like a good idea, but considering how paranoid many system admins tend to be, one has to wonder whether it could ever really take off as a movement.
Are you David Still?
If not, well, you can be. David Still has given up his personality to the masses, so you can write to people as him, and better still, reply to people who have sent e-mails back to the enigmatic Mr Still. Potential for confusion: I'd say fair to middling...
In a small Ohio town, a fight over the right to knock on doors
You are a Supreme Court Justice. How would you rule on this case?
SafeWeb not so safe?
It was pitched as a "web anonymizer." It was supposedly even "CIA proof." Now some holes have been found.
PrintCafe sues idiot.
Literally. They are suing several individuals who posted anonymous comments on F---edCompany's message boards. So far, all they have are the aliases the comments were posted under, namely "Ex-DLJ", "sucky-me", and "idiot!". Apparently that's all they're going to get, since Pud says here
, "FC servers contain no logs
". Also of note is item number 4 on this page
of the letter Pud received.