How to Stay Pseudonymous Online & Offline


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Full details in blog post
Slides for presentation at BarCampLondon5 and SocialMediaCamp London 2008.
(Edited to remove some identifying info! (and make them more suitable for the Web).)

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How to Stay Pseudonymous Online & Offline

  1. 1. Staying Pseudonymous On and Offline
  2. 2. Different aspects <ul><li>Phone </li></ul><ul><li>Email </li></ul><ul><li>Address </li></ul><ul><li>etc </li></ul>
  3. 3. Rule no. 1 <ul><li>Don’t go out in person as your pseudonym! </li></ul><ul><li>Except in disguise… </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>I’ve already broken that rule </li></ul><ul><li>(As I don’t really care that much about hiding my “real” identity...) </li></ul><ul><li>(If I did, I wouldn’t go out as “Improbulus”!) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Intro to me <ul><li>“ Improbulus” – my pseudonym / pen name </li></ul><ul><li>Blog: ACE (A Consuming Experience) </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  6. 6. Why be pseudonymous? <ul><li>Everyone has different reasons </li></ul><ul><li>( Why I blog anonymously ) </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom! </li></ul>
  7. 7. Rule no. 0 <ul><li>It’s IMPOSSIBLE to truly be anonymous – or pseudonymous </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>All you can do is just make it a bit harder </li></ul><ul><li>And don’t give them reasons to want to know your real name </li></ul>
  9. 9. Examples of bloggers “outed” <ul><li>“ Abby Lee” ( Girl with A One-Track Mind ) </li></ul><ul><li>Patent Troll Tracker (outed himself after someone else threatened to, following “bounty”) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Scope of talk <ul><li>NOT about anonymous surfing / Net use </li></ul>
  11. 11. Name <ul><li>Pick a pseudonym that sounds like a real name! e.g. Jane Smith </li></ul><ul><li>(Not “Improbulus”… probably not “Jane Doe” either…) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Face <ul><li>Online </li></ul><ul><li>In person </li></ul>
  13. 13. Online <ul><li>Don’t upload a real photo of yourself </li></ul><ul><li>Use disguised version or cartoon: this is me, red eyes & all… </li></ul>
  14. 14. Going out in person <ul><li>Safest: don’t go out as your pseudonym at all (see rule no. 1…) </li></ul><ul><li>Going out in disguise really isn’t practical </li></ul><ul><li>So, if you have to go out as your pseudonym, try to avoid photos being taken of you and posted online! </li></ul>
  15. 15. How to avoid photos online? <ul><li>Hide – duck, turn away etc! (group photos maybe OK as long as you’re not tagged) </li></ul><ul><li>Ask photographer to blur/cut you out </li></ul><ul><li>At a minimum, ask them not to tag the photo with your pseudonym </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>NB – watch for tags of photos on Flickr, Facebook etc and try to remove them </li></ul>
  17. 17. Voice <ul><li>Try to avoid being recorded </li></ul><ul><li>Online e.g. Skype calls - use voice changer: Screaming Bee’s MorphVox Junior (free) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Street address <ul><li>PO Box – Royal Mail’s “safety” is a myth: “ Disclosure of information Royal Mail reserves the right to give the address (and title) of the PO Box holder to any enquirers, and this information will be added to the Royal Mail’s national address database – the Postcode Address File (PAF). Information on PAF is used to produce a number of Address Management products that are available to the public.” </li></ul><ul><li>Use others e.g. British Monomarks </li></ul>
  19. 19. Domain name <ul><li>Anonymous registration (private domains) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>several providers e.g. GoDaddy </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Phone <ul><li>Cheap PAYG SIM or phone (NB fake address etc!) </li></ul><ul><li>Personal number (home phone or mobile) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>, </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Temporary/virtual/disposable number </li></ul><ul><ul><li>, </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Email <ul><li>Webmail – NB your personal details! </li></ul><ul><li>DEAs – (& Gmail alias) </li></ul><ul><li>Private domain (plus Google Apps etc) </li></ul>
  22. 22. Confidentiality agreements <ul><li>Get from Google AdSense, Amazon </li></ul><ul><li>People sending things for review </li></ul><ul><li>etc </li></ul><ul><li>NB try to get confirmation in writing ! </li></ul>
  23. 23. Agreements can be broken… <ul><li>Abby Lee...? </li></ul>
  24. 24. Most importantly… <ul><li>Limit jigsaw pieces you give out! </li></ul><ul><li>Whether online or offline. </li></ul><ul><li>Even if to different people (they can get together to put pieces together). </li></ul><ul><li>Examples. </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>Improbulus A Consuming Experience http:// / [email_address] 079 432 45 789 BM ACE, London WC1N 3XX </li></ul><ul><li>See blog post for full write up. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Questions, suggestions?
  27. 27. Thank you!