Anonymity & Blogging

Anonymity and blogging is a hot topic. In addition to a panel at BlogNashville a variety of guides have recently come out. The EFF has published a guide on “How to Blog Safely“. It is a general discussion of blogging and anonymity. Another guide by Ethan Zuckerman, ” A technical guide to anonymous blogging“, focuses on the pragmatic side of blogging anonymously.

The one thing, which I noted in the comments is that people who want to be anonymous should not rely on the use of open public proxies. Although the use of such a proxy can sheild your IP address from the host you’re connecting to it may send through identifying headers and all the traffic between you and the proxy is generally in plain text and easily intercepted by anyone (ISP, government, workplace) sniffing traffic upstream. For anonymous communications, try TOR, now sponsored by the EFF.

However, I don’t want my comments to be interpreted as falling into the “no matter what you do you can be tracked down” category. Rebecca MacKinnon’s account of the Anoniblog meeting indicates that this point was brought up a number of people. While not disputing the theoretical possiblity of such an omnipotent adversary I think the key is pointing out what technologies work well in specific situation and fully informing users of potential weaknesses. Rather that trumpet a defeatist approach, we should note that people are risking imprisonment and other nasty consequences for publishing information online. They are taking these risks without technologies or non-technical practices that help sheild them from such consequences. There are technologies that work well to provide security and anonymity and given the specifics of the end-user’s situation — technical capabilties and legal/consequencial environment of the country of residence — such technoogies can provide a layer of protection that such users do not currently enjoy.

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