Moxie Marlinspike on Internet Anonymity

ITWeb had an article earlier this month on Moxie Marlinspike’s keynote address at the ITWeb Security Summit in the Sandton Convention Centre. Moxie is a computer security expert well known for showing the world how insecure SSL communication and certificates can be. He is also known for his campaign for internet anonymity and privacy in the digital age.

Thus was the topic of his speech at the ITWeb Security Summit:

Marlinspike asked the audience how many of them would be happy to carry a government tracking device. No one raised their hand. But when asked how many in the audience carried a cellphone, the results were the opposite. There is not much of a difference, he opined. “A cellphone has real-time positioning and cellular companies are required by law to supply this information to governments. The difference lies in choice. People choose to carry cellphones.”

Moxie also talked about Google, and its tendency to save all of your search criteria, choices, maps, directions, etc:

In addition, Google claims to ‘anonymise’ users’ data after nine months. “Anonymise means drop the last octet of an IP address,” he explained. “Cookies are simply translated. It also says it takes privacy seriously, putting it under the user’s control, but in fact only shows the user some of the information they are most obviously capable of connecting to you. In addition, it requires that the user has an account, remains logged in while using services, and maintains a consistent cookie in order to participate.”

The scope of the ‘Google choice’ has become quite large, he added. “We need some innovation that allows us to reject this type of false choice while still maintaining anonymity. We need anonymous access to Google services that is fast and reliable.

To this end, Moxie created “Google Sharing”, Basically, a Firefox plugin that connects your browser to a proxy server run by Moxie that offers anonymous use of Google services.

*NOTE – as always, it is a security risk to connect to a proxy server that you have no control over.

Unfortunately, with all the scare of terrorism, cybercrime and state backed cyber espionage we live in a world where the bad guys mascaraed as good. In trying to ferret out these threats, personal privacy and anonymity is taking a back burner. For the full article see “Privacy Dies Off”. 

3 thoughts on “Moxie Marlinspike on Internet Anonymity”

  1. The cell phone quote reminded me of something I saw on T.V. a few years back. Some national security guy, on a debate over cell phone tracking and spying by the government said,

    “If people are really freaked out that the government is tracking you or listening to your calls, just turn your phone off. They can’t do anything without your phone being powered up…”

    Now, that government security guy HAD to know that absent removing your battery, it doesn’t matter if it’s turned on or not. The GPS can be activated remotely even if the phone is off, in fact the entire phone (most modern cell phones) can be activated remotely, without showing it has been at the phone, and can be used as a “mobile bug” as has been shown in several mafia-related criminal cases.

    As for Google, I mean come on. Any company who’s motto is “Do No Evil” well, you have to know they’re up to something. LOL

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