Privacy and anonymity on the internet

Way back in the day of dial up modems it was relatively easy to be functionally “anonymous” on the internet. Every time you dialed in you got assigned a possibly different IP address, and you could have accounts with as many ISPs as you cared to dial into. Most services were free, simply requiring an online user request form be filled out that would never be validated against any sort of ID requirement (with some exceptions).

Now…anonymity on the internet is a bit harder. Most everyone is using a “constant on” broadband connection to the point where your IP address (or if you want to talk cell phones the IMEI and IMSI numbers) are easy to pinpoint your activity to you. At least if you are an ISP or government agency. So essentially there is no more anonymity on the internet, not if anyone is bothering to look for you. VPNs can help, but then you are at the mercy of the VPN to protect your anonymity.

But is there privacy? This is essentially the same as anonymity with the added bonus that financial transactions with legitimate sellers really do try to protect your account information. Some of this is because of laws and regulations of course (the technologies existed before the regulations, it simply became prohibitive to not use good encryption technologies). But these tech solutions aren’t perfect, and the financial transactions themselves are generally not secret. They want you to tell all your friends on social media that you just bought a new video card from some corporation.

But is there true anonymity and privacy? Well, even if you are a government agency looking to be “covert” with your spy planes you can be found out from publicly available records: https://www.buzzfeed.com/peteraldhous/hidden-spy-planes?utm_term=.tcpVDN3ago#.pojaJdQ86O

After all, this is WHY intelligence agencies collect such harmless things as “metadata” and Congress continues to allow the programs to continue: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/02/us/politics/nsa-phone-records.html

Everything you do that can leave a record, does. Every thing that is recorded, can be analyzed. Being anonymous on the internet…not for the unskilled anymore. Why does this matter? Google knows everything you do, and they are not on the side of people who form opinions contrary to groupthink: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/08/10/im-not-a-sexist-fired-google-engineer-stands-behind-controversial-memo/?utm_term=.d73708a4f8ba  And if Google knows everything you do, well, so does everyone else:  http://www.salon.com/2014/11/16/googles_secret_nsa_alliance_the_terrifying_deals_between_silicon_valley_and_the_security_state/

This is the new normal, and know one cares.

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One Response to Privacy and anonymity on the internet

  1. DW says:

    Your last sentence pretty much sums up the whole problem. No one cares about security. As long as I can get to the “book of face” and play my online games – I am good to go brah!

    The dumbing down of the citizen-serfs has been a success story that all previous totalitarian regimes would envy. It was nice to see the “Goolag” get some long overdue push-back on the Damore memo firing, but it won’t last. Most users at all my client sites are happily using google and chrome and don’t care about any security or tracking. If I try to explain the issues, they look at me like I have lost my mind. The “I am a good person, so I have no worries” argument is pervasive.

    I will never give up advocating for liberty, but I am definitely frustrated and looking for new ways to present liberty arguments to young people. It does seem like a lost cause.

    Like

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