The Dark Side
At a time when online privacy seems all but impossible, one refuge we’ve had for browsing the Internet anonymously has been Tor, the browser thats keeps your identity and location hidden. But with every passing week, it’s becoming harder to trust that Tor is perfectly secure—especially considering that not even the Tor Project can be sure of their security anymore.
Last week, European police bragged that an international sting — now called Operation Onymous — pulled down over 400 deep web services and put 17 people behind bars. In response, Tor put out this explanation on their blog of how these services were found and shut down:
They See Me Trollin'
On Friday, Facebook announced that they’d opened up their network for access through Tor, the browser that allows you to roam the Internet anonymously. Tor users, privacy activists and members of the media (guilty) scoffed at the idea — why access Facebook anonymously if Facebook insists on plastering your real name on every interaction?
That’s a question best answered by the Tor Foundation themselves. On Friday, they posted on their official blog explaining why there are still plenty of good reasons to use Tor while checking Facebook, no matter what you’re doing there.
Anon No More
“First off, I am not talking about those silly wild haired dolls with jewels in their belly buttons,” begins the most recent installment of the regular Ask a Cop column, published to Utah’s KSL News website. This week’s topic of conversation isn’t the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street or how to circumvent marijuana laws: it’s a long, angsty missive about the scourge of online trolling.
Got big plans to save money on your summertime Hamptons excusions by renting someone’s designer couch via Airbnb? Well, get ready to hand over your driver’s license.
AllThingsD reports that starting today, 25 percent of users will have to submit to the company’s new “Verified Identification” process, or you will not be booking any more futons. Hosts can now restrict their rentals to verified users, incentivizing signups.
Last night, the now-notorious Reddit troll Violentacrez, whom Gawker recently exposed as a 49-year-old Texas-based programmer named Michael Brutsch, appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 for God knows what reason. In the painfully awkward two-part interview, during which Mr. Cooper thankfully gave us a commercial break to collect ourselves and tweet our thoughts, Mr. Brutsch invoked every possible excuse to justify his poor behavior, which includes creating controversial subreddits like PicsofDeadKids and Jailbait.
Throughout the interview, Mr. Brutsch referred to his Reddit username Violentacrez in the third person, echoing other statements he’s made about Violentacrez being a character he played and attempting to distance himself from taking personal responsibility for his actions. He also admitted that his sole purpose for creating racist and misogynistic subreddits was to get a rise out of people (he bragged he has a “gift” for it) in order to accumulate “meaningless internet points.”
YouTube comments are a notorious cesspool of sexism, racism and vitriol, and the fact that the vast majority of users go by anonymous handles probably doesn’t help mitigate the problem. Google appears to know this all too well–its obsession with keeping Google+ free of pseudonyms is a good indication that the company isn’t a big fan of anonymity.
Now, the search giant is taking its distaste for anonymity to a whole new level, instituting a pop-up dialogue box urging YouTube users to employ their real names.
Arrests, shutdowns of established file-sharing sites like Megaupload and legislation such as S.O.P.A. have driven users to seek a new breed of file-sharing destination. File-sharers are looking for security and privacy and they may have found it with newer solutions such as RetroShare and Tribler.
Naturally, since governments the world over are actively pursuing shutting down file-sharing in a variety of ways, anonymity and a lack of censorship are highly prized. TorrentFreak has more on why these and other options are gaining in popularity: