Frank Mitchell

Anonymity on the Internet

I wondered on over to the land of Oz today, and discovered that the doors were closed and locked. Well, a bit of lock-picking revealed that said site wasn’t really closed, and indeed had a few new essays since I’d last checked it.

Most interesting was a bit about onions, by vvf. So I poked a bit more, and I’m pleased to say that I’m now running Tor. Thus far, I haven’t noticed any performance hits (and it’s pretty cool that it comes with Privoxy installed by default).

Following the Slashdot discussion, I realized that a lot of people out there are pretty stupid when it comes to computers. To quote my Linear Algebra professor:

“Anything is possible inside of a computer. Normal rules of math don’t apply.”

It’s true.

The biggest obstacle to a high bandwidth, low latency, anonymous, encrypted, P2P system, is that too many people think it’s impossible. Kind of like how people think high bandwidth, low latency, mesh networks are impossible. (Side note: they’re wrong there too.) But given the way that computer science is taught in colleges these days, that’s really not too surprising.

There’s too much emphasis on software, and not enough of a nod to the hardware that could make an anonymous, encrypted, P2P network blazing fast.

Anonymity is possible on the Internet, but it’s going to require that more people learn a little bit more about what’s really going on under the hood of their computer. It’s also going to require that we start rethinking how our information is transmitted and passed around. What resources are out there that we’re not taking advantage of?

As an ending point (and a little bit of encouragement to get more people running Tor), this link is worth following: