Flashback: Make yourself invisible (online)

Internet of Things Technology
Flashback: Make yourself invisible (online)

In MAKE Volume 15, we ran a simple 5-step project on how to acquire a bulletproof, anonymous online identity. Every day this knowledge seems to get more relevant. The article was authored by Publius, who “prefers to write anonymously about anonymity.” Published in August of 2008, the intro reads:

In May of this year, a judge ordered Facebook to turn over the identity of someone who created a fake profile of a high school official. Other school officials have sued over fake MySpace profiles. Not all judges take free speech rights seriously; even fewer high school and university administrators do. Setting up an anonymous blog or website is the obvious way to protect yourself from being punished for speaking out, but is this legitimate? And if so, how can you accomplish it?

Anonymous speech has a long and distinguished history. It was part of the political debate leading to the rift with Great Britain; revolutionaries relied on it to conceal their identities from the Crown. The tradition continued with the Federalist Papers, which presented arguments for ratifying the U.S. Constitution. They were published in the 1780s under pseudonyms including “Publius.” The authors of the Anti-Federalist Papers, who predicted that the Constitution would lead to a tyrannical central government, used aliases including “Federal Farmer.”

Internet anonymity is something of a high-wire tightrope act: one tiny technological misstep, and you’re doomed. Fortunately, technologies for anonymous website publishing are both secure and, finally, easy to use. You can create an anonymous or pseudonymous persona that’s proof against not just random busybodies, but attorneys armed with subpoenas too. (You should be familiar with relevant state and federal laws, of course, and do nothing illegal.)

Want to know how? Check out the full article in our Digital Edition.

You can still pick up a back issue of MAKE, Volume 15, our Music issue, over in the Maker Shed!

10 thoughts on “Flashback: Make yourself invisible (online)

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s worth noting that hushmail isn’t entirely bulletproof… If you’re doing anything through hushmail that’s enough to upset the authorities enough to file a subpoena through the British Columbia Supreme Court, your identity is compromised. Sure, they won’t reveal anything without the due course of law, but they are required to collect information about their users, and they will disclose that information if they’re compelled to by the BC supreme court.

    See the wikipedia entry for hushmail for more info.

  2. SKR says:

    For hushmail, you can make it pretty bulletproof by using tor to connect to the hushmail servers and not using the online encryption option that is really convenient. Instead, make sure to encrypt locally. If the mail is encrypted before it hits the wire, hushmail won’t have much to turn over to the gov’t.

  3. Carl says:

    Wait a second, impersonating another person is “protected free speech” now? I was under the impression that identity fraud was illegal.

    “someone who created a fake profile of a high school official.” – that’s not free speech, guys.

    1. Anonymous says:

      There’s a difference between stating your opinion and making a profile page pretending to be someone else.

      Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean you can be irresponsible with it.

  4. satyaveer saini says:

    mob. no. 9166588667

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

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