Surprise! Net Censorship Circumvention Tools Sell User Data

from the just-when-you-thought-you-were-safe dept

As you may know, there are a number of circumvention tools used by businesses, activists and journalists seeking to avoid the Internet censorship efforts in countries like Saudi Arabia or China. What you probably did not know was that a number of the most popular tools willingly provide specific user data, including browsing history. Harvard researcher Hal Roberts revealed last week that DynaWeb, FreeGate, GPass and FirePhoenix all partake in the startling practice of selling user data.

These tools work by operating as virtual ISPs for the user in the censored country, so they have incredible amounts of information about the online practices of millions of users. As Roberts points out, the best way to avoid sharing this information, which authoritarian governments would love to have, is to not store it. Unfortunately, these projects have chosen to support themselves through the sale of data, thus potentially compromising their goal of Internet freedom. Although they claim to have "strict screening" before selling personally identifiable data, one can easily imagine leaks or errors.

While this shouldn't be entirely surprising - no system is perfect - it is a practice which should be corrected. And it should serve as a reminder that those wishing to remain anonymous online have an uphill battle.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    And Dismayed Too, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

    Underhanded Business Practices

    I'm shocked I tell ya - shocked ...
    that someone would try to make a buck by stabbing someone else in the back !

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 4:53pm

    One born every minute

    Anyone who thinks that anonymity can be bought with a credit card is woefully naive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Land Shark, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 8:33pm

    Re: One born every minute

    Anonymous web browsing is a fairy tale.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    toruser, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 6:17am

    actually....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: One born every minute

    Anonymous web browsing is a fairy tale.
    No, there are ways, but none of them involve using your credit card as with the companies mentioned above.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    johnny, Feb 13th, 2010 @ 12:52am

    One born

    Thank you! Anyone who thinks that anonymity can be bought with a credit card is woefully naive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This