How to blog anonymously

As we progressively lose our freedoms on the internet, it was timely to have a read of some of the excellent material written by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society – it’s part of the Harvard Law School and has the delightful url of cyber.law.harvard.edu – as it was started from a seminar way back in 1994.

The Center’s Internet and Deomcracy blog has a recent post on “How to blog anonymously“, and explains why anonymous speech is important:

Like 18th century phampleteers (or even the writers of the Federalist papers), anonymous bloggers are empowered by their aliases to challenge taboos, censors and government power.

…The internet is the last bulwark against totalitarian control because of its fluid and democratic character. That is why anonymous blogging is so important. Difficult to trace or gag, it is the kind of speech most likely to impact an increasingly interconnected and web-dependent world.

However – it’s a dangerous game this blogging:

Of course, be extremely careful. Use these tools at your discretion. Reporters Without Borders has a comprehensive list of jailed cyber-dissidents.

The GlobalVoices site has the guide to blogging anonymously,which comes with a chilling caevet:

These directions do nothing to prevent you from being linked through other technical means, like keystroke logging (the installation of a program on your computer to record your keystrokes) or traditional surveillance (watching the screen of your computer using a camera or telescope). The truth is, most people get linked to their writing through non-technical means: they write something that leaves clues to their identity, or they share their identity with someone who turns out not to be trustworthy. I can’t help you on those fronts except to tell you to be careful and smart.

The bold part is important. The surveillance measures that are increasingly coming in are not that important to the either “criminals” or “freedom fighters”. Decent police work is much more effective at finding out about bad things happening, which is why societies should make sure their police, court systems and bureaucracies are corruption free and focused on the highest risks. New Zealand always scores very highly on these stakes.

Anyway – to cut a long story short, if you don’t want the ISP’s in NZ (or anywhere) to be able to see what you are doing, then use Tor, proxy servers, gmail and wordpress, writing your posts offline in say notepad and secure erasing everything along the way. You may not be really avoiding any real threat to your personal freedom in New Zealand, but you will be helping people that have real issues.

It’s a draconian move to go undercover, but there are some topics and writers which lend themselves to being anonymous. Consider though the words of GlobalVoices:

A final thought on anonymity: If you don’t really need to be anonymous, don’t be. If your name is associated with your words, people are likely to take your words seriously. But some people are going to need to be anonymous, and that’s why this guide exists. Just please don’t use these techniques unless you really need to.

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
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