Anonymous Web Surfing

Online Internet PrivacyDoes anonymous surfing automatically imply that something fishy is going on? Absolutely not. Most free people like the ideas of privacy and anonymity - living without the shadow of "Big Brother" peeking over their shoulder. Living in the western world, we have been programmed to believe that we are completely free with our rights and freedoms protected to varying degrees by our respective constitutions. But a closer look at the world would lead one to believe that this is not necessarily the case. No where else is it more blatant than online - on the Internet. Many people assume that the Internet is completely anonymous, unless they choose to reveal their personal information when purchasing goods or services online or when posting with their real identities. The Internet was looked as an open arena where people from across the world would be able to express and exchange ideas freely. It did not take long for unscrupulous individuals, organizations and eventually governemnts to either take undue advantage of these freedoms or try to impose their will with respect to the freedoms on the people.

We all know of the great firewall built in China - one that does not let dissident voices get in or out of the country. Or the high tech data centers in the Middle East that are acutally arms of the religious police, ensuring that dessenting opinion and 'questionable' content is denied to its citizens. And then there are the various companies and individuals in the rest of the world who are trying to exploit the millions of new users that come online every year. Whether it be for illegal purposes like fraud, kidnapping, and stalking; or to monitor a user's every step on the Internet to be used to sell them a product or service in the future. These are some of the ways in which we have lost privacy on the Internet.

Sometimes you want to send something without having your real name attached to it. For example, you are an official spokesperson for a company, and now you want to say something "off the record". Or maybe you want to discuss something that is going on in your company, without identifying yourself as the sender of the message. Could be that you want to express your disappointment with a political party or system and live in a totalitarian environment and fear backlash. In these cases it makes sense to pursue an anonymous email strategy. The use of anonymous remailers can help one gain some sense of email anonymity.

Similarly you might not want to be tracked across a website as you read certain articles or opinions. Maybe you don't want the website to know how you found out about them? Should your ISP or the networks know that you visited your local alcoholics anonymous website? Or you wish to keep your operating system and other version inforamtion about your computer private. Again, annoymity though this time applied to the application of web surfing makes perfect sense. There are a few ways of accomplishing this; using proxies on the Internet or dedicated annonymous services. The only latter service - Freedom Internet by Zero Knowledge has recently been discontinued leading to only one practical choice for web users and that being annonymous proxies.

People generally do not like to be tracked without their knowledge and average web surfer wishes to remain annonymous. Here is a look at some of the personal information you are currently giving to the whole world. Many people believe that proxy servers are the answer to web privacy and anonymity. In most cases, this is far from the case. Proxy servers often give a false sense of privacy, all the while leaving juicy bits of your private information along the way. It would not be too far fetched for governments or companies to advertise honeypots as "anonymous proxies" with the goal of gathering personal information on the users. If you would like to protect your privacy when surfing the web, you need a good VPN service like Proxpn one of the online privacy/anonymous services like Anonymizer's private web surfing.