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Rad Community Technical Discussion Boards (Computer Hardware + PC Software) >> Norton Ghost 2003,  Ghost v8.x + Ghost Solution Suite (GSS) Discussion Board >> Internet Searches:  Not Private?

Message started by Pleonasm on Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:52am

Title: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:52am
CNN reports (20 JAN 2006) that Google has received a subpoena from the US Justice Department to provide “1 million random Web addresses and a list of all Google searches from any one-week period.”  Google is resisting this request, but “other, unnamed Internet search firms had agreed to turn over the requested information” to the government.

Most users don’t know that “The Internet's top four search engines, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL, state in their privacy policies that they automatically record information on user searches, including Internet browser and language, computer IP addresses, unique cookie information, and the URL of the page requested.”

What’s a person to do?  Surf the web confidentially, using a tool such as Total Net Shield (https://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/products/total_net_shield/) by Anonymizer.  I have used this for about two years, and it work quite well.  Total Net Shield runs invisibly in the background, compressing and encrypting all HTTP and HTTPS communications to/from the Anonymizer proxy server which masks the user’s identity to the world.


Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Rad on Jan 24th, 2006 at 6:36pm
timely post.

i used to use a freebie anonymous web-surfing service, altho only when i really "need" to:


anonymizer also offers a similar product that costs only $30. (vs $100 for industrial-strength one you mention)


i bet their sales sky-rocket. might be a good time to buy stock in that company.

there's a freebie link in the top-right corner of their home page:


they also have a free toolbar:


UPDATE: okay, i downloaded & installed the free toolbar. it pretty much suks. too limiting, and slow.'

do you find the service slow? laggy?

they also offer a free 7-day trial download:


7 days seems kinda skimpy.

look at the picture of the guy in that link. what do you think he's watching?

which browsers are supported?

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by MrMagoo on Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:00am
Since most home users use a dynamic IP address and most ISP's flush their DHCP records occasionally, it's not like the search engines are spying on you.  It is impossible to use any compouter anywhere without leaving tracks.  Still, I use an anonymous proxy if I'm doing something on the internet I'd like to keep to myself.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Jan 25th, 2006 at 12:55pm
Rad, you are correct:  the free Privacy Toolbar service offered by Anonymizer is slow.  My understanding is that the queries submitted by way of this option are placed “at the end of the queue” with paying customers receiving priority.  In years past, Anonymizer inserted a random delay when using the free service, although I don’t know if this is still their practice.

In contrast, Total Net Shield is not slow.  In fact, on a subjective basis, it appears to actually speed the Internet connection by about 5% to 10% - despite the fact that my Internet traffic is passing through the Anonymizer proxy server.  The only explanation I can offer is that Total Net Shield not only encrypts all client/server traffic, but also first compresses it before transmission.  I suspect that doing so yields a higher effective bandwidth.

Total Net Shield is independent of the browser.  The company says “Anonymizer software will work with any browser except AOL.”

The less expensive Anonymous Surfing product by Anonymizer hides your IP address – but unlike Total Net Shield – it does not encrypt the contents of Internet traffic to/from your PC.  Thus, someone could still intercept your Internet communication packets and monitor your activity.

Anonymizer offers a free fourteen day trial period for Total Net Shield.  Personally, I encourage everyone to try it.  As a US$100/year subscription service, it is not inexpensive – but, that equates to about a quarter of coin per day:  quite a value, from my vantage point.

* * * * * * * * * *

MrMagoo, I agree that there is no need to be “paranoid” about the Internet search engines spying on you.  However, there is also no reason not to take reasonable precautions to ensure your privacy.  If protecting your Internet privacy was very complicated or if doing so had some other significant disadvantage, then there might be a reason to ignore the issue.  But, a few simple steps – like using Total Net Shield or a similar product – solves the problem.  So why not be confident about the confidentiality of your Internet usage?

Additionally, of course, it is also wise to erase (and not just delete) the history and traces of your Internet activity on your PC.  There are many tools in this realm.  Personally, I use the CyberScrub Privacy Suite (http://www.cyberscrub.com/products/privacysuite/index.php) to accomplish the objective.

* * * * * * * * * *

If a user has nothing to hide or to be ashamed about in using the Internet, then is there any reason to mask one’s identity?  I would answer “yes!.”  Privacy is a fundamental human right, and we ought to guard, protect and nurture it “just because” it is the right thing to do.

P.S.:  Rad, maybe this thread merits “sticky status” on the forum for a while, so as to raise awareness of these concerns among the readership?

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by NightOwl on Jan 25th, 2006 at 1:41pm

Who is to prevent the US Justice Department from subpoenaing the records for the Anonymizer proxy server?

Unless they delete all records and thoroughly wipe their memory after each usage--will there not be a record of the connection between you and the proxy server--the two systems do have to communicate with each other--so IP addresses must be used and *linked*?

I'm not familiar with using Anonymizer--but, it seems it only shields you when online--but, will have a record of the internal interactions between you and the sever--Yes/No?

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Jan 25th, 2006 at 2:37pm
Good observations, NightOwl.

When using an anonymous proxy server to mask your Internet identity, it is essential that the provider of the anonymous proxy server be trustworthy.  Otherwise, you have simply substituted one problem (e.g., an ISP or search engine “snoop”) for another (i.e., a proxy server “snoop”).  For example, there are many free public anonymous proxy servers available.  The difficulty, of course, is that you don’t know whether such servers are protecting your privacy, or whether they are a vehicle for compromising your privacy.  If the proxy server is logging and monitoring your Internet traffic, you have caused more harm than good.

I don’t want to appear to be posting a commercial for Anonymizer, but they are the oldest and the largest firm providing privacy solutions for consumers and corporations.  That does not guarantee their trustworthiness, of course, but it makes it highly likely.

In conversation with technical support at Anonymizer (which, by the way, is excellent), I learned that Anonymizer does not write any of the Internet traffic that passes through its servers to disk:  everything is processed in memory.  With millions of customers, the chances that one specific Internet trace would exist for any meaningful duration is minuscule.  A government agency could in theory demand that Anonymizer provide its records; in practice, however, Anonymizer has no records to provide because of how it runs its own operation.

It might help the reader of this thread to explain a bit about how an anonymous proxy server works.  Using a telephone analogy, let’s say that Abe wanted to request information from Charles.  If Abe calls Charles directly, then Charles can easily know the identity of the caller.  Alternatively, Abe can accomplish his objective in an indirect manner.  Abe can call his trusted friend Bob, who then places Abe on-hold, picks up a different telephone line, calls Charles, gets the requested information, hangs-up with Charles, picks-up the telephone with Abe, and then provides Abe with the desired information.  From the perspective of Abe, the net result is the same in either case:  he gets the information he requested.  However, in the latter situation, Charles can’t possibly know that it is Abe requesting the information, since Charles only communicates with Bob.  To complete the analogy, substitute “PC user” for Abe, “anonymous proxy server” for Bob, and “website” for Charles – that’s how it works.  Now imagine that there are thousands of such simultaneous conversations occurring, all mediated by the anonymous proxy server (“Bob”):  in this many-to-many mapping, there is logically no method to “link” or associate the requestor (“Abe”) of the information with the provider (“Charles”).

NightOwl, I’m unclear what you intended when you asked, “… Anonymizer … seems it only shields you when online”.  Yes, the entire function of Total Net Shield is to mask the identity and the contents (using encryption) of your Internet communications – thus, it is a “online” solution.  Total Net Shield (once installed and configured) operates seamlessly in the background, so there is no repetitive login, start-up, or other “hassle” involved.  Just launch your browser, and surf the Internet as you normally do with confidence in your confidentiality.  I recommend that you test the product yourself, which can be cancelled in fourteen days if not satisfied.

P.S.:  To see your own IP address and its Internet connection routing, visit http://network-tools.com/.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Jan 25th, 2006 at 5:01pm
A reader of this thread might be interested in Scroogle (http://www.scroogle.org/), a “Google scraper” search engine that works like Google but doesn’t track the user.

Also visit the “Google Watch” organization (http://www.google-watch.org/) which monitors Google’s privacy actions.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Rad on Jan 25th, 2006 at 6:19pm

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Jan 30th, 2006 at 5:04pm
Interested readers of this thread may also wish to look at the Microsoft article “How to Clear the Windows Paging File at Shutdown” (Article ID 314834).  The document describes a registry tweak to force Windows to erase “the Windows paging file (Pagefile.sys) during the shutdown process, so that no unsecured data is contained in the paging file when the shutdown process is complete.”  In the absence of so doing, “third-party programs can temporarily store unencrypted (plain-text) passwords or other sensitive information in memory” that could be retrieved.

I have used this feature of Windows for about two years with no issues.  The only disadvantage is that it increases the time it takes to shutdown the PC.

Reference:  http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=314834

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Feb 1st, 2006 at 7:13pm
Anonymizer deserves a medal for its actions to protect privacy . . .

Free anti-censorship program scheduled to launch by end of quarter.

San Diego, Calif. February 1, 2006

Anonymizer® Inc., the leader in online identity protection technology and software solutions, today announced that the company is developing a new anti-censorship solution that will enable Chinese citizens to safely access the entire Internet filter-free, and also free from oppression and fear of persecution or retribution. This new program expands upon Anonymizer's history of human rights efforts which provide a censor-free Internet experience for those in oppressed nations.

Anonymizer's new anti-censorship solution for Chinese citizens will be available before quarter's end. The solution will provide a regularly changing URL that users can access to open the doors to unfettered access of the World Wide Web. In addition, users' identities will be protected from online tracking and monitoring by the Chinese government.

"Anonymizer is not willing to sit idly by while the freedom of the Internet is slowly crushed," commented Lance Cottrell, president and chief scientist, Anonymizer Inc. "We take pride in the fact that our online privacy and security solutions provide access to global information for those under the thumb of repressive regimes."

The communist government has taken a hard line against freedom of the press and access to information on the Internet. Google and others have been forced into a box by the Chinese government's strict requirements, but Anonymizer stands firm on the issue of protecting civil liberties. The company has been protecting basic liberties for more than a decade. It enabled safe Internet communications for families split on either side of the Kosovo conflict; it was used previously by the Voice of America to ensure that news Web sites were not blocked by the Communist government in China. Anonymizer also works in conjunction with the Voice of America today to bring safe Internet access to Iranian citizens.

Source:  http://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/media/press_releases/02012006.html

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Feb 2nd, 2006 at 2:02pm
The following is a listing of resources related to the anonymous use of the Internet.

Here are some current proxy services which make anonymous surfing possible:
   * Cotse
   * The Cloak
   * Anonymizer
   * IDzap
   * Mega Proxy
   * @nonymous
   * Guardster
   * Proxy Web
   * SnoopBlocker
   * Proxify
   * Bitesize Work
   * proxy spinner
   * The Virtual Browser
   * NoMoreLimits

Anonymous Web Proxy Server Lists
These websites maintain frequently updated lists of anonyous proxy
servers on the Internet.
   * http://www.anonymitychecker.com/
   * http://tools.rosinstrument.com/proxy/
   * http://www.atomintersoft.com/products/alive-proxy/proxy-list/
   * http://www.findproxy.com/index.html
   * http://www.cybersyndrome.net/pla.html
   * http://www.multiproxy.org/anon_list.htm
   * http://www.proxz.com/
   * http://www.publicproxyservers.com/page1.html
   * http://www.proxy4free.com/page1.html
   * http://www.stayinvisible.com/
   * http://www.samair.ru/proxy/

Anonymous Browsing Quick-Start Page, includes search boxes for:

URL Encoder (no ads)

Anonycat Web Proxy


Go Proxy

Mr. Privacy


My Shield

Proxy MXDS

Pure Privacy


Shadow Browser


. . .

The Cloak





My Shield

Shadow Browser

Encrypted SSL Proxy Subscription

Practical Privacy Guide:Anonymous Surfing
Method #1: Anonymizer
"pay service allows FTP and HTTPS"

Source:  http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=566720

The caution stated in Reply #5 in this thread is worth reviewing before using any anonymous service or product.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by clevelandtxus on Feb 2nd, 2006 at 5:17pm
I've been using Proxomitron for some time now which can help.  Also, some firewalls now have some sort of web blocking and referral settings.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by NightOwl on Feb 2nd, 2006 at 8:14pm

I'm not familiar with using Anonymizer--but, it seems it only shields you when online--but, will (Anonymizer) have a record of the internal interactions between you and the sever--Yes/No?

NightOwl, I’m unclear what you intended when you asked, “… Anonymizer … seems it only shields you when online”.

What I was asking is if Anonymizer keeps a transaction record on its server of your interactions with Anonymizer--If *yes*, then the government can subpoena those records.

Using your *telephone analogy*:

trusted friend *Bob* (Anonymizer) knows that *Abe* asked for information from *Charles*.

The government now gives Bob *truth serum* (a subpoena) and Bob now reveals that Abe wanted information from Charles--and what information was requested!

Now if *trusted friend Bob* has a *short term memory* problem and cant remember anything after the finish of the transaction of delivering the requested information from Charles to Abe--then the *truth serum* will not be a problem, being as Bob no longer remembers!!!!

Is that how Anonymizer works?  Does Anonymizer keep *no* records of any transactions made through it's server?

Or, does it just make you *anonomous* while online--but a record is kept on its server of what you requested and from whom?

Does that make sense?

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Feb 2nd, 2006 at 8:55pm
NightOwl, Anonymizer maintains no log or history file of the user's interaction with its proxy server.  As described in Reply #5, however, a trace of a user's interaction might exist for a brief duration in memory before being overwritten by another entry – a function of the total amount of traffic passing through the server at one time.  Stated differently, Anonymizer does not systematically retain user interactions.  To continue the telephone analogy, "Bob" does indeed suffer from a "short-term memory deficit."

The caution that you are raising is a good one, NightOwl, and it corresponds what I was attempting to communicate in Reply #5 when I wrote about the dangers of using an anonymous proxy server run by a company or individual whose trustworthiness is unknown or uncertain.  If "Bob" didn't suffer from a "short-term memory deficit," then "Abe's" interaction would still be anonymous to "Charles," but the confidentiality of the "telephone conversation" would be partially compromised because "Bob" would know and remember who you "called" and when.

Another facet of the telephone analogy that I didn't include is this:  "Abe" and "Bob" are talking on a secure telephone line, which precludes anyone from listening to their conversation.  Total Net Shield by Anonymizer encrypts all of the traffic (HTTP and HTTPS) that passes to and from your PC, and in this way prevents your ISP (or anyone else) from intercepting and examining the transmissions.

A critical fact to consider is this:  you simply don't know if anyone is "snooping" on your Internet communications.  Maybe it's not occurring.  Or maybe it is.  You just don't know.  At a minimal cost, however, Total Net Shield provides confidence that your activities are private and confidential.  I encourage you to give it a try.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by NightOwl on Feb 3rd, 2006 at 1:44am

I'm trying to recall--you sign on here as a *Guest* because you do not wish to report an email address to the forum registration process--is that correct?

Or does Anonymizer somehow prevent you from signing on as a *Member*?

More generally, will Anonymizer prevent one from accessing websites where you have an account name and password, or does the masked IP address and encryption have no effect on such issues?

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Feb 3rd, 2006 at 9:54am
NightOwl, concerning the Rad forum, I've never officially "signed-up" because I didn't see any reason for so doing.  Are there "benefits" of being a forum member about which I am unaware?  (Can I retroactively earn five stars?)  From my own perspective, being a guest on the forum is just a simply way to avoid a login process.  (Yes, perhaps I am guilty of being a bit 'lazy' on this point.)

Total Net Shield, however, doesn't prohibit the user from using websites that require a login.  The tool runs transparently in the background, and your Internet experience appears the same as it always has been – i.e., you can do what you have always done in the way you are accustomed to doing it.  Total Net Shield doesn't filter content or suppress URLs, unlike the security and parental control features of Norton Internet Security 2006, for example.

If you establish an account on a website and then subsequently login, you are – of course – voluntarily relinquishing your confidentiality.  Even in that case, however, Total Net Shield still provides value in so far as it prevents the website from knowing your IP address, your ISP, and your general geographic locale; plus, the content of your transmissions is cloaked to your ISP (because all traffic is encrypted to/from the PC).

One possible caveat:  I would anticipate that any website that authenticates you by IP address (e.g., domain name) would fail when using Total Net Shield.  Usually such websites offer an option, however, to manually login by entering a user name and password as well, and so the problem could be circumvented.  Alternatively, Total Net Shield can be temporarily disabled by right-clicking the icon in the System Tray and selecting "Switch to Insecure Mode."

* * * * * * * * * *

To further elaborate upon the telephone analogy, "Bob" regularly changes his outbound telephone number so that "Charles" would have a difficult time knowing who is "calling."  Correspondingly, Anonymizer changes the IP address of its proxy server no less frequently than once per day, so that any website attempting to block traffic arising from Anonymizer will be hindered.

P.S.:  The content that I have posed in this thread is based upon publicly available information on the Anonymizer website (www.Anonymizer.com), conversations with the company's technical support personnel, and my own usage of Total Net Shield.  Anyone wishing to confirm or probe these issues can call Anonymizer directly at 888-270-0141 (or 858-866-1300).

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Ghost4me.John on Feb 3rd, 2006 at 11:58am

I've never officially "signed-up" because I didn't see any reason for so doing.  Are there "benefits" of being a forum member about which I am unaware?  (Can I retroactively earn five stars?)  From my own perspective, being a guest on the forum is just a simply way to avoid a login process.  

Pleo, I enjoy reading your always enlightened posts.  You seem to have a knack for finding new obscure (yet relevent) topics!

First, you don't have to re-logon each time.  There is an option to stayed logged in permanently unless you click the "Logout" button at top of screen.

The two main benefits that I enjoy are

1) getting an email notice when someone has replied to a topic I posted to.  That is a nice alert so I don't have to keep checking to see myself.

2) When you look at for example Low Rad Board, there is a small "new" icon to the left of any topic that contains a post which you have NOT read.  This is regardless of whether or not you have asked to be noticed of postings.  This is VERY handy because if I have been gone for awhile, I can instantly see which threads/topics have new postings that I haven't read.  

If you're not signed in, you don't get to see those "new" icons.


Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Ghost4me.John on Feb 3rd, 2006 at 7:42pm
Pleonasm, I forgot to mention:

3) You have the option in your Profile to NOT make your email address visible.  (for those concerned about Anonymizer etc)

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Brian on Feb 5th, 2006 at 5:39pm

Pleonasm wrote on Feb 3rd, 2006 at 9:54am:
I've never officially "signed-up" because I didn't see any reason for so doing.  Are there "benefits" of being a forum member about which I am unaware?  

Perhaps not for you Pleo, but certainly for other members if 'you' were signed up. The "Search" function is a prime example. I can choose a member, show all of his (her) posts on one web page and search that page for words or phrases. I do it relatively frequently. The link I posted today on partitions (written by Dan) was found using the Search function. I can't search your posts because you aren't a member. At times my brain says, "Pleo has written about this", but I'm unable to find the post.

I'm serious Pleo. It would help me if you were a member.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by El_Pescador on Feb 5th, 2006 at 11:23pm

Brian wrote on Feb 5th, 2006 at 5:39pm:
"... I'm serious Pleo.  It would help me if you were a member..."

I concur.  Moreover, I would advocate that you be appointed a Moderator in short order.

EP :'(

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Feb 7th, 2006 at 2:18pm
It is worth noting that Total Net Shield provides several security advantages in addition to its primary confidentiality and privacy benefits:

Pharming -
Pharming . . . redirects Internet users from legitimate Web sites to malicious ones using a strategy called DNS cache poisoning.  The "Pharmer" inconspicuously hijacks your computer takes you to a copycat Web site.  The site it takes you to is most commonly a page that looks identical to that of your bank or financial institution.  From this point, they ask you to submit your vital passwords and financial information which go straight into their databanks. . . . Anonymizer's online identity protections solutions protect users against pharming attacks by routing all customer Internet traffic through the Company's protected DNS servers

Evil Twin Attack -
Evil twins trick wireless users into connecting a laptop or PDA to a tainted hotspot by posing as a legitimate wi-fi provider at the airport or your local coffee shop.  Once you connect to their wireless network, the evil twins can watch your online activities and steal your confidential information.  Total Net Shield safeguards you from this threat by encrypting all of your online activities so the evil twins are unable to access your passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal information.

Man-In-The-Middle Attack -
MITM attackers are able to read, insert, and modify online communications between two parties without either one knowing that their communications had been compromised.  Total Net Shield protects you from this attack by encrypting all of your online communications with SSH tunneling.

Source:  www.Anonymizer.com

* * * * * * * * * *

Ghost4me, Brian and El_Pescador:  Thank you all for the kind comments.  I have registered, and so now am an ‘official’ member of the forum.  Unfortunately, I’m classified as a “Rad Noob”!  (What's that?)  Maybe Rad will look kindly upon me and upgrade my status to “Official Rad Warrior”?

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Brian on Feb 7th, 2006 at 4:33pm

Pleonasm wrote on Feb 7th, 2006 at 2:18pm:
Maybe Rad will look kindly upon me and upgrade my status to “Official Rad Warrior”?

And so he should.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Feb 15th, 2006 at 9:33am
The current issue of TIME magazine (February 20, 2006) asks this question on its cover:  “Can We Trust Google With Our Secrets?”.

For those who access the internet anonymously, the question is of no concern.  For those who don’t, the question needs to be considered.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Rad on Feb 15th, 2006 at 10:54am

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Mar 14th, 2006 at 12:20pm
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that "Google, U.S. Set For Court Face-Off Over Search Data" (March 14, 2006):

Justice Department lawyers will press their case against Google Inc. today by arguing in federal court that consumer privacy won't be violated by the release of millions of company search records.

"Consumer privacy won't be violated by the release of millions of company search records"?  Is this an attempt at humor?

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Mar 15th, 2006 at 1:04pm
See the paper Timing Attacks on Web Privacy for a description of how your Internet privacy might be compromised through a very clever analysis of the time it takes load webpages.  The bottom line is this:  disable the Internet cache in your browser to circumvent this threat.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Apr 17th, 2006 at 11:39am
Anonymizer is now providing free anonymous Internet access for the denizens of China:

Chinese Citizens Get Censor-Free Internet Through Anonymizer
Operation Anti-Censorship Now Unveiled for People of China

San Diego, Calif. - March 31, 2006 - Anonymizer Inc., the leader in online identity protection software and services, today announced the launch of Operation Anti-Censorship.  This new privacy software, created specifically for Chinese citizens, will enable safe access to the entire Internet by circumventing the Web filters put in place by the government.  In addition, the new solution protects users from detection, persecution, and retribution by shielding their personal identities and related information that the Chinese government is currently able to monitor.

Source:  http://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/media/press_releases/03312006.html

The long-term political impact of allowing the Chinese unfettered access to the Internet could be quite significant.  Anonymizer deserves accolades for its accomplishment.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Apr 30th, 2006 at 4:59pm
Another privacy concern on the web is a cookie replacement system built by United Virtualities, "an Internet marketing company best known for introducing 'Persistent Identification Element' (PIE) technology to store information on user's computers that survives even if the user regularly deletes cookies.  PIE works by using a feature of the Macromedia Flash Player that allows remote sites to store data for future retrieval, namely, 'Local Shared Objects'" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Virtualities).

For instructions on how to circumvent this privacy concern, see:

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on May 9th, 2006 at 9:34am
Here is a resource that may be of interest to readers of this thread:  Free Anonymous Surfing.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Jun 2nd, 2006 at 10:02am
Threats to your Internet privacy continue to develop, as reported by the Wall Street Journal (June 2, 2006):

The U.S. Justice Department is working on a proposal that could compel Internet service providers to retain customer use data for up to two years . . . .

The initiative is a priority for U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who gave a speech in April outlining how prosecutors believe retention of email traffic and Internet usage data could aid criminal investigations . . . .

As a part of this process, Mr. Gonzales and FBI Chief Robert Mueller met privately last week with executives of several Internet companies, including Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Time Warner Inc.'s AOL unit and Verizon Communications Inc.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Aug 23rd, 2006 at 10:18am
The landscape of Internet privacy appears to be taking a turn for the worse.  Read – with horror – the article Qwest calls for mandatory data retention laws (22 AUG 2006).

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Aug 24th, 2006 at 11:05am
. . . And then there is the recent story about AOL accidentially releasing the search history of 19 million queries from 658,086 subscribers.  Is it scarier that AOL inadvertently made this information public – or, that they were logging and retaining it in the first place?

For more information, see:  AOL says privacy breach was a mistake.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Sep 5th, 2006 at 9:44am
Using the metasearch engine ixquick appears to be one way to avoid the privacy concerns associated with Google, AOL and other major search firms.

Ixquick.com eliminates 'Big Brother'
HAARLEM, The Netherlands, June 27, 2006

As personal privacy concerns create growing alarm about the freedom of the Internet, the Ixquick metasearch engine (www.ixquick.com) has taken a pioneering step: starting today, Ixquick will permanently delete all personal search details gleaned from its users from the log files.

As digital technology increasingly pervades our world, more and more personal details are being stored electronically, many of them by search engines. While you are searching the internet, these engines register the time of your searches, the terms you used, the sites you visited and your IP address. In many cases this IP address makes it possible to trace the computer, and in turn the household, that carried out the search.

Ixquick's Meta Search feature enables the user to simultaneously search 11 of the best search engines. However, Ixquick does not share the user's personal data with these individual search engines in any circumstances. In addition, as of this week, Ixquick will delete the users' IP addresses and 'unique user IDs' from its own 'Log Files'.

"Therefore, any user can use Ixquick.com to search in a combination of the best search engines secure in the knowledge that they can enjoy complete protection of their privacy," continues Mr. van Eesteren.
Source:  http://us.ixquick.com/eng/press/pr_big_brother.html

Scroogle and BlackBoxSearch are two similar services.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Sep 6th, 2006 at 12:16pm
Something new may be on the horizon.  It is called “NotMe.com,” is based on a U.S. Patent, and is scheduled to launch in October, 2006.

Any person, from any PC, can visit any website... even purchase from that website, completely anonymous, completely secure, leaving absolutely no history nor tell tale information anywhere, with one click.

The NotMe Advantage:

Complete privacy and security at the website visted, they have no way of identifying you, nor any way to pass Cookies, Trojans, a Virus or any kind of Spyware to you.

Complete privacy and security from any PC or device connected to the internet that you happen to be using at the time with absolutely no way for the PC to track where you have been.

Complete privacy and security on your credit card statement.

And, there is absolutly no software needed, it is ISP based, so it works from any and all PC's today!

This new Patented technology is an "Indirect Portal", not a proxy, an will change how users surf the internet forever. Why? You need to do nothing except surf from NotMe when you want complete and utter privacy. The way the internet used to be way back when.
Source:  http://www.notme.com/

The claim to protect the user from all viruses and spyware is almost certainly dubious, and the poor spelling (e.g., “visted,” “absolutly”) and grammar on the website might be indicative of the quality of the service. We’ll need to wait and see how it operates.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Sep 20th, 2006 at 12:54pm
“Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday stepped up his efforts to lobby for federal laws requiring Internet providers to keep track of what their customers do online.”

For the full story, read Gonzales: ISPs must keep records on users.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Jan 10th, 2007 at 12:36pm
Numerous tools, tips and techniques related to privacy on the web may be found at:

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Feb 21st, 2007 at 9:57am
Anonymizer now has a 20%-off sale on its Total Net Shield service.  Based on my experience, these sales occur rarely – so, if interested, now is a good time to purchase or renew/extend a subscription.

Title: Re: Internet Searches:  Not Private?
Post by Pleonasm on Nov 23rd, 2007 at 4:12pm
Anyone using TOR for Internet browsing should be concerned . . .

Swedish researcher Dan Egerstadt recently provided users with a timely reminder that The Onion Router (TOR) anonymisation network should be enjoyed with caution. By setting up five exit nodes, Egerstad sniffed out large amounts of e-mail access data from embassies and government agencies and published some of this data on the internet.
Source:  TOR anonymisation network phished, part 2

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