Whilst the web has done much to enhance the lives of millions of people around the globe by facilitating business, or by increasing the opportunities for self-improvement through learning, or by simply offering the means to stay in touch with friends and family, it isn’t all rosy in the digital garden.
One of the costs of usership is the erosion of privacy which seems to be a necessary part of using the internet these days.
Back in the early days of the internet you could go online and do virtually anything without worrying too much about privacy. Anonimity was relatively easy to achieve.
Now, however, it appears that using web sites and other net-based services requires the user to give up more and more personal information in return. Just about every type of site or service wants to know as much as possible about you. They want to know your name, your address, details about your family and what you do for a living. Some sites, such as Facebook, even want to know all about your friends too.
Then, of course, there is the government. We now know that the likes of GCHQ and the NSA seemingly want to know everything about our lives, all in the name of protecting us from the bad guys.
An increasing number of people are becoming concerned about such intrusion into their private lives though, perhaps rightfully so too.
Even though some may argue that giving out personal information isn’t all that dangerous, many people simply want to avoid all the associated advertising that seems to go hand in hand with giving up contact details.
Even though these people know that many services work better when they have the correct information, they don’t want web-based services to know their real names, etc. And so they will attempt to conceal their identities online, though sometimes they may go too far and get themselves into trouble.
Sometimes people will try and hide their personal information by making stuff up when they use the web. more often than not this approach is ok in some ways and won’t cause any problems but if you are thinking of going down that road you have to remember that using a fake identity can be a serious issue under some circumstances.
When dealing with official bodies, such as the tax office or other government entities, you better tell them the truth. If you misrepresent yourself under such circumstances you can be fairly certain that your decision to hide your real identity will catch up with you at some point down the road.
You can also get into trouble if you deliberately take another person’s identity and appear to be them. Such activity is called identity theft and is likely to be an extremely serious crime wherever you may happen to live. This is not something you want to become a part of. Ever.
Lastly, if you try to maintain a level of anonimity on the web then do not be tempted to hijack someone else’s internet connection. Some people do connect to their neighbour’s broadband (and it is still far too easy to find insecure routers even today) but trouble may follow if you do, especially if you use their connection for nefarious purposes.
There are many reasons why you may want to protect your identity whilst online, perhaps more so now than ever before, but you need to so so in a way that is legal, moral and ethical. Don’t be tempted to do anything stupid in the name of anonimity. It just isn’t worth it and you’ll likely be found out any way.