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May 3, 2005
Zuckerman on How to Blog Anonymously
Ethan Zuckerman, founder of Geekcorps, Berkman fellow, and all-around great guy, has written a terrific technical complement to EFF's recent white paper, How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else). Zuckerman's guide approaches anonymous blogging from the perspective of a government whistleblower in a country with a less-than-transparent government -- the kind of person for whom the promise of the Internet as a vehicle for democratic speech is especially desirable and important. Though the guide is about using technology, it's one-hundred per cent accessible to the non-geek -- Zuckerman's hypothetical "Sarah" walks the reader step-by-step through a set of increasingly challenging technical strategies for keeping your identity private on the Internet:
Sarah starts to wonder what happens if the proxy servers she's using get compromised? What if the Minister convinces the operator of a proxy server - either through legal means or through bribery - to keep records and see whether anyone from his country is using the proxy, and what sites they're using. She's relying on the proxy administrator to protect her, and she doesn't even know who the administrator is!
Spending quite a long time with the local geek this time, she explores a new option: Invisiblog. Run by an anonymous group of Australians called vigilant.tv, Invisiblog is a site designed for and by the truly paranoid. You can't post to Invisiblog via the web, as you do with most blog servers. You post to it using specially formatted email, sent through the MixMaster remailer system, signed cryptographically.
It took Sarah a few tries to understand that last sentence. Eventually, she set up GPG - the GNU implementation of Pretty Good Privacy, a public-key encryption system. ...She generates a keypair that she will use to post to the blog - by signing a post with her "private key," the blog server will be able to use her "public key" to check that a post is coming from her, and then put it on the blog.
She then sets up MixMaster, a mailing system designed to obscure the origins of an email message. ...She sends a first MixMaster message to Invisiblog, which includes her public key.
Ethan has asked for a thorough de-bugging; if you care about freedom of speech on the Internet and have expertise to share, drop by Global Voices
and lend a hand.
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