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Perils of Anonymity

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March 16th, 2006
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I have been receiving an increasing amount of spam, of both the comment and the email kind, from TOR which led me to the EFF homepage of TOR. With power comes enormous responsability. Anonymous proxying of data and connections can be a good thing on the one hand, but can be a big problem on the other when you consider that criminals and miscreants can easily manipulate the anonymity to suit their nefarious needs. I see this network (and all like projects) becoming a huge problem in the future.

Does this anonymity come with any responsability? Should there be accountability added to anonymity on the internet? What gives an user of TOR the authority to use/abuse their services? Does TOR hold their users responsible for their actions? More generally, does the Internet, as a medium, offer unabashed and unfettered anonymity without consequence? Is that how we, the end users of the Internet, really envision it or do we protest only when it hurts our own interests?

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Comments

  1. Nate (2 comments.) says:

    Hmmm… it sounds like a way to get away from the law tracking people who use the Gnutella Network illegally. I think it’s a great idea for people woried about security threats and should have a charge towards it’s use. The pros of a system like this seem to be pretty much equal to the cons. *sigh* but even if you don’t agree with it… what can you do about it huh? Other than inform your userbase of it’s horrors… but I think that will only kick in when they have been traumatized by the system themselves. Personal Experiences make the final judgement on a product. Sucks dude… sorry to hear about your spam. Have you tried Gmail? It blocks my spam way better than anyother mail program online and off. And you can totally tailor it to carry your own personal addresses… I’m sure you know all of this already… I havn’t tried it but to cut down on comment spam have you tried Akismet?

    -Nate

  2. Ian Hamet (1 comments.) says:

    OTOH, it’s a blessing to those of us living in societies where the government is a determined snoop and scold (I’m in China; anonymity is a good thing here, much of the time).

  3. Alrayyes (1 comments.) says:

    Euhm….Logging would prove difficult seing as the network is supposed to be anonymous. With the sweet comes the sour, with freedom you have to accept that there will always be a small percentage of people that abuse that freedom.

    I for one think that we should all be able to be legally anonymous on the internet, because the other side of the scale would be logging everything and giving everyone a unique ID. Seeing that goverment and corporations have always without exception abused their power when it comes to privacy, this is just not an option.

    Spam shouldn’t be a problem in the future, as you can of course get a lot of information by analyzing the content instead of where it came from.

  4. Dave (1 comments.) says:

    1) New Anonymous proxy service of some sort comes online

    2) Script kiddies and spammers get a hold of it

    3) It gets banned by BOPM and every self respecting e-mail server on the planet

    4) Said service is no longer viable

    5) Wash, rinse, repeat

  5. blau (1 comments.) says:

    Criminals and miscreants already do nasty things, using identity theft, compromised windows hosts, botnets.

    Tor servers al have an exit pollicy deciding which kind of traffic goes out and the default configuration in to disallow port 25 tcp.

    I think that comment spam is an issue that can’t be solved on IP address basis, but on the content and headers of the spam connections itself. Bad Behaviour and Akismet wordpress plugins are two good examples.

    Tor users are mostly normal people doing normal things on the net. See:

    http://tor.eff.org/faq-abuse.html.en

  6. Simon (10 comments.) says:

    anonymity is a good thing, it proves that we live in a society that allows the freedom to hide your true identity. Most people use this for neutral causes (as in not to do socially unacceptable illegal deeds such as identitiy theft, hacking, spamming and bot-netting) but there are a few who abuse this freedom so as to gain from it. But still it is their right to hide their identity, wether that is a good or bad thing in peoples eyes, they must accept the fact that you cant have one law for them and one law for us, and that privacy laws must either state that you may choose to remain anonymous legally or that it is illegal to hide who you are from others.

    Myself I believe that anonymity is a good thing, to have the personal freedom to hide your true identity is a symbol of privacy. However I do adnowledge that there are issues relating to people abusing this right – in that case I belive that anonymity should only be allowed if it is not used to carry out socially unacceptable deeds – but then I believe that it should be allowed for people to hide their identity when they are “illegally” downloading torrents. So my understanding and view of what is socially unacceptable may be different from someone elses.



Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Brooks Zone says:

    Anonymity dangerous?

    Malicious people will eventually use anonymity to hide themselves. Is this good? Bad?
    Discuss.

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