Internet Anonymity Pros and Cons

Anonymity over the Internet has largely helped journalists escape clinching firewalls and surveillance of their governments. In fact, Freedom of the Press Foundation recommends use of The Onion Router (TOR) to better protect journalists’ from surveillance and in many instances prison (Lee, 2013). Anonymity in the World Wide Web allows political activists, whistle-blowers, and everyday citizens to present information and their views without fearing negative consequences (Chawki, Darwish, Khan, & Tyagi, 2015). Political activists use Internet anonymizing services to plan demonstrations. However, there have been instances when hacker activists (hacktivists) such as Anonymous attacked government and corporation websites rendering services unavailable. Anonymous are quite fond of TOR and stood up against ‘Lizard Squad’ after they had started to attack TOR servers (Smith, 2014). In 2010, Anonymous hackers carried out distributed denial of services (DDoS) attacks against anti-piracy websites as part of their Operation Payback. After PayPal stopped transacting with Wikileaks, they suffered blow-back in form of Operation Payback. These attacks cost PayPal in over $5 Million (BBC News, 2012). Although 14 Anonymous hackers were arrested and 13 of them were indicted, main suspects were using anonymity services and are yet to be found.

In face of detailed surveillance and big data mining by large and small corporations, anonymity can help keep our lives private. A European court recently overruled a law that obliges telecommunication companies to collect customer’s personal metadata and store it for up to 2 years. The court stated that collection and retention of subscriber’s personal metadata will cause a feeling of constant surveillance (Top EU Court Rejects Metadata Collection Law, Cites Privacy Concerns, 2014). Consumers today rely on large corporations such as Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook to store their personal information. This provides the convenience of targeted marketing over the cost of our privacy. For example, every page we visit, our IP address, device and operating system details, and location may be stored in a data warehouse (The Guardian, 2013). This data is then waiting to be stolen because we rely on these large corporations to protect data that is very intimate and personal to us (Schneier, 2012).
Works Cited

BBC News. (2012, 11 22). Anonymous hackers ‘cost PayPal £3.5m. Retrieved 03 25, 2015, from The Register:
Chawki, M., Darwish, A., Khan, M. A., & Tyagi, S. (2015). Cybercrime, Digital Forensics and Jurisdiction. New York. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-15150-2_7
Lee, M. (2013, 07). Encryption Works. Retrieved 03 31, 2015, from Freedom of the Press Foundation:
Schneier, B. (2012, 12 03). Feudal Security. Retrieved 03 31, 2015, from Schneier on Security:
Smith, D. (2014, 12 26). Anonymous To ‘Lizard Squad’: Stop Attacking Tor. Retrieved 03 31, 2015, from Business Insider:
The Guardian. (2013, 06 12). A Guardian Guide to Your Metadata. Retrieved 03 14, 2015, from The Guardian:
Top EU Court Rejects Metadata Collection Law, Cites Privacy Concerns. (2014, 04 08). Retrieved 03 31, 2015, from Mashable: