General Question

srmorgan's avatar

Can a blogger blogging personally maintain anonymity with any degree of assurance?

Asked by srmorgan (6768points) November 2nd, 2008

A family member wants to blog about the workplace and the governmental admistration that oversees the workplace. Also does not want to be found out and/or fired. Aside from excluding anything truly personal that could identify him or her, how safely can you hide your identity??

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8 Answers

MissAnthrope's avatar

Create a separate mail account for the blog, possibly using a false name and address if required for registration. On the blog, I would be careful about what names I mention (I would probably create aliases for everything), and I would mention nothing personally identifiable. If you seriously need anonymity, as in people of authority might come looking for the owner, try using a proxy or two to hide the IP address of the blogger. Aside from that, if the government wants to find the owner, they likely can.. you’d have to be a computer whiz to find a way around publishing a blog in your country.

I have an anonymous blog, myself, and no one has yet to figure out it’s me.

Vincentt's avatar

You could also use Tor to route your browsing session through another computer so it looks like it’s not coming from you. However, you can’t choose which computer that other one is, so it might just as well be one that is used to spy on you.

The safest option is, of course, not to do this at all. It’s still a risk you’re taking.

jballou's avatar

To be quite honest, it will never be terribly hard to find out the identity of a blogger. If she’s that concerned, she should probably not write anything that would get her fired. And she should also check her employee handbook, some employers allow blogging, even negative blogging. And some don’t allow it at all. Not even positive. It’s a dangerous game to play without knowing your rights.

Even if it were possible, total anonymity won’t protect you from lawsuits.

srmorgan's avatar

@ all

The total opinion is not to blog, at least about work. Thank you
@alenad – I don’t follow “your country” I live in North Carolina and although we seceded once, they let us back in a few years later.

@jballou, – yes it is not worth the effort given possible consequences.

Thanks again

SRM

MissAnthrope's avatar

What I meant is publishing the blog in your country (the U.S.), where it is subject to U.S. laws, as opposed to having a server overseas in a country with different laws (privacy, etc.).

srmorgan's avatar

@AlenaD -I thought you were in the US also.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I am. You’re not getting my point. Hee. Let me try to explain better..

Okay.. when you publish a blog, usually you use a service that resides (has servers) within your country. Even if you don’t use a service (like Blogger), you still need a place to store your files, which also would most likely be in your country of residence. I didn’t know what country you lived in, I assumed it was the U.S.

Now, if it’s just a question of saying bad things about an employer, you probably don’t have to go to such great lengths. If there’s nothing in the employment contract preventing blogging, your friend is free to whistle-blow anonymously about a company, provided what’s said is true. Yay, freedom of speech! It’s only a problem if you’re slandering/libeling, but as I said, if it’s true, I wouldn’t worry too much, other than taking precautions to remain anonymous.

If you think The Man might get involved, you would want to take some extra precautions. I’ll use the example of your friend wanting to post some sensitive, whistle-blower type stuff, but several steps more serious.. something that would catch the attention of The Man (govt.).

So if you’re publishing a blog in the U.S., and you divulge sensitive material (for example), the government could potentially get information easily about the account owner and also very easily nab you, because you live in the country where the rules were broken.

However, if you live in the U.S. and use an overseas/foreign service, or store your files on a server in Poland or something, it makes it more difficult for you to be tracked down.. the country may not cooperate with the demands of the U.S. government to reveal the customer name, it would make it more difficult for the files to be subpoenaed or whatever, etc.

See what I’m saying? Add in the use of some proxies and you can at least somewhat distract the authorities on where you are exactly. I’m not saying it’s foolproof, but it’s smarter than just using Blogger and saying a bunch of stuff that could get you in trouble. ;)

srmorgan's avatar

@AlenaD

Thank you for the exteneded explanation. She is not going to be doing anything of the sort based on advice here and from a relative working in network security.
This isn’t atomic secrets, it is just a state agency but the odds are that someone would see it (the man) – I haven’t used that expression since the mid-70’s – are high and it is not worth the risk.

SRM

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