The internet is not anonymous

by Volker Weber

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog. Right? Wrong.

Many users share the same major misconception. They think they can keep a secret by using handles instead of their own names, by keeping e-mail addresses, web pages or similar things by obfuscating them. So let me tell you something new: There is no leak-proof system*.

Simply don't do things that you don't want to have linked to your person. If you use a handle, someone will find out who you are. Don't stick out a tongue at a collective audience. Inquiring minds want to know.

The last user I came across who tried to stay anonymous by using a handle was Buga Difino who — previously unheard of — posted some very good comments about the state of IBM marketing around Lotus Domino and Lotus Workplace on Mike Golding's notestips.com.

Yesterday Buga made a stupid mistake. Now I know his real name, his occupation, employer and so forth. I do not intend to publish this information, but to everyone else: Consider yourself warned. You may get away with using a handle for a while. But certainly not forever.

*) You don't keep a ship from sinking by making it leak-proof. You pump the water out faster than it is leaking in.

Comments

Us OpenNTF'ers caught someone a while back on a similar premise. By mapping back when he linked from openntf.org to notes.net or was it vice versa?), then scanning web logs for the same IP address, we got him.

If you really want to stay anonymous, wear gray flannel, keep your head down, and don't mutter too much.

Dovid, 2004-01-13

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