Internet Freedom

By: Stephen

Internet privacy and necessity of personal data collection

For today, there are two main problems very seriously contradicting each other regarding privacy in the Internet and anonymous surfing in a particularly:
1) Ensuring Internet privacy of a person (anonymous surfing, anonymous email, etc.);
2) Personal data collection aiming at identifying a user's personality and thus helping the law machinery.

It is notably that this conflict has become one of the hottest topics of today's Internet life: as regards both e-commerce development and more specific area called delicately "Law machinery regular work support" or something of the kind.

Marketing structures are constantly searching for new and more effective ways of gathering maximum possible information about their potential customers. This data is convenient, and since now, essential addition to nowadays commerce in Internet automatic world. It is clear to anyone that it is much easier to collect large bulk of data about consumers by means of the Internet. A manager or anyone who holds information concerning customers can get essential profits in business.

However, it is not unreasonable that civil liberties defenders trace some attempts to breach citizens' fundamental rights as in most cases the information about Internet users is collected without their consent. That is why in order to protect and promote such civil rights as privacy and freedom of speech it is necessary to ensure Internet user's anonymous surfing and make it possible to use pseudonyms when communicating on-line.

Anonimization services and their compromise

In recent years there have appeared a number of services that provide free and paid "anonymization" services: anonymous surfing, anonymous email, etc. In other words, a user gets guaranties of personal data privacy in the Internet while using servers of these agencies. Among dozens of such agencies one can point out the most popular ones: Anonymizer (www.anonymizer.com), Private Web Access (www.bell-labs.com/project/lpwa), Onion Router (www.onion-router.net), and Aixs (www.aixs.net/aixs/).

But as detailed survey of their features showed they do not provide anonymous surfing and anonymous email they declare. Richard M. Smith, Internet-consultant from Boston, carried out a research. He did not create new facilities; he just used well-known tools that web-servers use. Smith demonstranted that it is quite enough to use these tools and some defects of browsers "Internet Explorer" and "Netscape Navigator" to compromise "anonymization agencies".

Smith created a web site to test the results (he equipped it with fit programmes and sent the invitations to computer news groups). He applied 6 different tests to identify anonymity level of services, above all, using possibilities of Java, JavaScript and Active X. Real test work showed that all 4 anonymization services listed above failed to stem the onslaught and yielded at least to one test having showed the real IP address of a user. According to Smith, it took up less than an hour to demonstrate insecurity of 4 most reliable services.

"SmartHide and future"

But a couple of years ago a revolutionary anonymization service appeared. It is called "SmartHide" (http://www.smarthide.com). It was created by the famous USA Company "Arovax LLC". "Arovax LLC" Company creates qualitative and efficient security software for Internet users for many years.

It was spent a lot of time and money to create SmartHide and according to Arovax LLC CEO, Joseph Boyd, "SmartHide will protect each user on fundamentally other level of security because we use VPN service. SmartHide can encode all information that users send and receive. I believe that SmartHide is a principally new Internet privacy solution that will be used in future as a fundamental one. And do not forget that SmartHide applies VPN that is why you cannot call it merely as a proxy server".

It is necessary to be registered on the web site to download SmartHide software http://www.smarthide.com/members/registration.php. After the installation of SmartHide on a PC a user gets easy software with GUI (graphical user interface). There is a button "Make me invisible" allowing to hide IP address, list of servers and some useful options inside the program. So, it is easy as a pie to use such program. SmartHide has a glance structure that "knows" in itself that programs' information should be encoded (browsers, IMs, e-mail applications and others). I.e. all applications' information using Internet connection will be secured by just one button pushing "Make me invisible". In this case a user is getting some advantages: to send and receive anonymous email, to talk in chats anonymously, to write on forums and blogs not being seen and just get anonymous surfing through the Internet.

SmartHide system uses VPN service, modern algos for encoding the information and fast servers from different parts of the world.

According to third-parties' and many customers' comments, this software really provides what it declares.

Overanxious Authorities
Such kind of protection really bothers many structures.

Let's remember the same problem with project "Freedom" (www.freedom.net). Austin Hill and his colleagues from Zero Knowledge received many invitations to go to government instances just as they launched this project. In recent months of the year they had to make a presentation of their product for different office members: RCMP - "Royal Canadian Mounted Police" (the analogue of USA FBI), CSE (like American NSA), and CSIS - Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (like CIA). Also they had an informal meeting with Department of Justice (computer crime control division).

In history there happened many cases when after similar actions companies changed their policy radically and attenuated their systems under authorities' pressure. That's why natural apprehension arose in the Internet-society regarding reality of future stable work of anonymous service after authorities' pressuring.

According to SmartHide developers, they do not violate any laws by providing anonymity to citizens in the digital age, similar to the one an ordinary list of paper and a pencil provided in ancient times. The human should have right to keep personal information private. They have to know that they need to hide IP address and ought to use software for anonymous surfing and anonymous email.

In conclusion one can remember the expression of a famous lawyer about a difference between a free state and a totalitarian one. Paraphrasing his words, in free country law machinery should have problems with getting access to the private information of citizens. If it has no problems with that then this country is fascist one.

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