Anonymous Person anonymousperson90 at in.com
Sat Jun 30 20:15:33 UTC 2012
I know it is dead, because I have tried to do it, and I can assure you it is dead.
Text is easy of course I can still blast a simple email out to a mailing list, I can lay my claims out in 7bit ASCII and let the world judge the merits solely on this simple medium. But media publishing a story with supporting images, scans, video or audio, it is dead, left only to the elites. And perhaps worst of all is the promise made by all of you that if you just … try a little harder, if you just use this service over here, if you just think about it another way that it is still possible. It is not.
Some time ago as an experiment I began the process to publish material fully anonymously no compromises. I obtained a prepaid line of credit, paid in cash, verified with a prepaid telephone, also paid in cash, and only turned on in an ambiguous physical location. And I set about to find a Virtual Private Server I could run a Tor Hidden Service on. My requirements throughout all of this were simple: use Tor for everything, pay cash or cash-equivalent for everything, leave no account on a service run by a US/UK/AUS/NZ/CA company, have the VPS hosted outside the same, pay a reasonable sum.
I needed an email of course. Nymservers like http://isnotmy.name/ or http://mixnym.net should have been the solution but of course they didn’t work. No amount of guesswork or trial and error got me a nym. Free webmail became the next goal. The more trustworthy (gmail), the less satisfactorily anonymous it was. The easier it was to register (in.com) the less trustworthy it was deemed. After signing up for a low-trust but easy-to-get email, I narrowed down my hosting options to a group of VPS in the price range, hosted outside the ‘bad’ countries, and whose company itself was also outside. There aren’t a lot.
The next problem became finding a VPS I could pay for.You see, most VPS sellers are small resellers and don’t process their own credit cards they outsource it to a payment processor, usually Paypal. Paypal doesn’t work. Paypal or AlertPay too stringent verification; Liberty Reserve blocks Tor; CashU not easily-found online merchant able to convert from a prepaid Credit Card; one after another all online payment methods fell by the wayside.
You might think ‘Bitcoin’. You would be wrong. No bitcoin service accepts any anonymous funding source; most only accept bank transfers. Apparently people performed chargebacks on credit cards to defraud the merchants. I can’t blame them for this, but it certainly kills the idea of ‘anonymity’. And I don’t trust the blockchain to provide anonymity.
After finding one of three or four VPS’ I thought I could pay for, I encountered the next obstacle: MaxMind. MaxMind is a fraud detector built into WHMCompleteSolution which in turn is the VPS management tool used by every budget VPS. I set off every detector it had: proxy software, low trust email account, strange addresses, no valid phone number, etc etc.
When I inquired to one company about this, I was laughed off. Even though I was willing to let them charge my card and sit on it for a month before providing service, no such luck. At this point, I needed to find a company large enough they processed their own credit cards, didn’t block Tor, and didn’t use fraud detectors.
I found one, a competitor to Amazon EC2, that I thought I could fall through the cracks of. It didn’t like my low trust email address, but after enough searching, I found an ISP I could get an account on without paying.After getting that, creating and verifying an account, and finally set up to make my payment … the prepaid card is declined. There’s no explanation, it just didn’t work.
I thought at this point, perhaps there was a service that could be used. There was an announcement recently: http://karelbilek.com/anontorrent/. Supposedly this guy will seed anything until it has 20 seeders of its own. Except the file limit is 50MB. And you can’t upload copyrighted material.
How about any of the much-acclaimed ‘leak sites’ that spun up after Wikileaks shuttered their wiki and submission system? Well, I went through all of these: leakdirectory.org/index.php/LeakSiteDirectory and all of them seemed to be either wannabes who had never published a thing or news organizations who were security illiterate and had no way to accept content.
Anonymous Publishing Is Dead.
You may seek to respond with the ‘right way’ to do it, the company you know will let me fall through the cracks, the trick you use to white-lie your way through the process. Don’t bother. If there is a way through, and I’m not convinced there is, it is so difficult to find that a technically unsavvy user would never be able to; and even technically savvy users like myself who understand all the tricks of firewalling off my machine so nothing but Tor escapes are groping blindly for it, unlikely to find it.
What can be done about this? What compromises are ‘safe’? Is a Hidden Service sufficiently trustworthy to host any material, and have it stand up to investigation when the server running it is in your name? Is the correct approach not to publish anonymously at all, as cryptome.org does? Should we rely on the Streisand effect, bittorrent, newsgroups, something else? These are mostly rhetorical questions.
My purpose in this email is to tell you that anonymous publishing is an unsolved problem. Any solution available today is not robust: it falls down in some situation: content, capacity, anonymity, or something else. What can be done about it? What will be done about it?
Dear tortalk! Get Yourself a cool, short @in.com Email ID now!