Create an Anonymous Website
by Bill Rounds
How to Vanish
by Bill Rounds:
Occupy Wall Street Protester Privacy
is threatened when corrupt forces can pressure the means of distributing
speech. Corrupt governments all over the world, or corrupt elements
within governments, use the methods at their disposal to silence
uncomfortable speech. One of the main methods they use is to threaten
the source of speech.
speech is important, even for more mundane reasons than scathing
political criticism. Advocates of medical marijuana, proponents
of evolution, gay rights activists, critics of local police, and
many others may need the protection of anonymous speech to protect
themselves while they voice their opinion. Efforts to censor online
speech are doomed to fail because people will find ways to publish
unflattering material online without leaving any trace of identity
a website, there are several points of weakness where identifying
information could be gleaned. Political
activists and whistleblowers
will be able to easily circumvent identity requirements at each
one of these points, allowing them to anonymously publish material
online with an anonymous website.
Website Domain Name
A website needs
a domain name (one of those .com things) which must be bought and
paid for through a domain registry like GoDaddy.
Most domain registries allow people to protect their identity by
using a domain
registration proxy. Using these proxies is not sufficient to
protect identity because identifying information must still be shared
with the proxy, which can be pressured to reveal it.
the domain registry from revealing their identity to anyone, political
activists will simply enter pseudanonymous information, like
Dogood. If they are really sneaky they may even enter the information
of a competitor to register their domain or use an anonymous domain
link in the chain is payment for services. Even if a pen name is
provided, the person paying for the domain name could easily be
tracked down by ruthless government officials by tracking down the
source of payment, making an anonymous website less anonymous. To
avoid leaving an audit trail back to their own financial accounts,
political journalists may pay for their domain name with a money
order paid for in cash,
use a prepaid
credit card (which they paid cash to acquire) or pay with Bitcoins.
There are several companies that offer domain
name registration for Bitcoins. If they send payment from a
Bitcoin address that has not been published anywhere else, it will
be hard to trace payments to them.
need to communicate with owners to provide information, remind them
about renewals, and other things. Most of that communication is
done by email. Whistleblowers will easily be able to set up an anonymous
email address with any free
part of maintaining a website is a server to host the website. Most
websites are hosted by a web hosting company. As with domain registry,
activists will use pseudonyms and anonymous email addresses to create
their accounts to host their politically sensitive websites. And,
they will pay with cash, prepaid
credit cards or Bitcoins
for the web hosting service.
As an extra
layer of protection, anytime smart political dissidents connect
to the domain registrar, set up or log into their email, connect
to their web hosting company, or log into their website to post
information, they will use anonymous
web surfing techniques. Tor
is free and easy, proxy servers are available all over the world.
those based offshore, will prevent authorities searching through
service provider records from discovering the IP address of political
activists. These methods are also a way to circumvent government
blocked sites, a common practice in places like China.
Even if a clever
political critic takes all of these measures, they are of course
still subject to censorship from corrupt pressure on service providers
to cut off service. The domain could be seized
by government officials or the web
host server could be confiscated.The activist themselves would
still be protected, and they would be able to republish their information
in other locations.
Even in the
absence of legal action, a domain registrar, or a web hosting company
can always be pressured to take information down. Offshore companies
in jurisdictions that are unfriendly to the criticized government
may be harder to pressure.
and the ability to dissent is threatened by censorship that results
from threats of imprisonment, violence and assassination. Those
threats are less effective to prevent people from publishing on
the internet when people can easily publish information completely
anonymously. For more techniques on protecting anonymity, check
out the book How
To Vanish and the upcoming report for political activists
on Anonymous Internet Publishing.
with permission from How to
Rounds, J.D. is a California attorney. He holds a degree in Accounting
from the University of Utah and a law degree from California
Western School of Law. He practices civil litigation, domestic
and foreign business entity formation and transactions, criminal
defense and privacy law. He is a strong advocate of personal and
financial freedom and civil liberties.
© 2011 How
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