Our Web; our privacy.

Here’s a cute, little silly, little longer than it needs to be but still short, video illustrating the issue of Net Neutrality and the push by corporations to gain literal control of the Internet–a virtual realm designed to be a haven for true democracy, education, information, and limitless open communication.

The film is brought to you by the Our Web movement. I don’t know too much about the organization yet, so I can’t say if I fully endorse them.

On the subject of a free, democratic, and uncontrolled Internet, here’s some information on an application that allows you to use the Internet anonymously–preventing sites, organizations, companies, from being able to collect data on your browsing path and habits, and location, even private data.
That Our Web site actually provides some good evidence on why this issue is important, by presenting this quote from a recent advertising trade piece:

“Today, we can not only target by the sites we think our customers frequent, we can follow them around the Web and target them based upon the other sites they actually visit. We can also target them based upon the words typed into a box, and from where those words are typed through search geo-targeting. We can also retarget searchers elsewhere on the Web. Facebook’s recent announcements take targeting to a whole new level, based upon age, location, interests, and other online activity.”
Source: “Search And Online Advertising: A Continual Evolution.” Ellen Siminoff. Search Insider. November 16, 2007

Anyway, so this BoingBoing article has a link to a page that reviews TOR anonymizer with a rather cute video that visually explains how it works. Check it our. 🙂

HOWTO Use TOR to protect yourself from censorship and snooping

Personally, I’ve been using TOR off and on for a little more than a year now. Mainly when I’m using my laptop on a wireless or unsecured connections–which isn’t very often. I’m not exactly a Road Warrior. 🙂 The connection under TOR does tend to be somewhat slower, but I guess there has to be some prices to pay for reclaiming our privacy. :/

Update: Tor is free, and free is good! But free also usually means user contributed and collective effort. In this case, those servers the animation illustrated your anonymous connection goes through, if run by an unscrupulous agent, your data can still be used against you.
Note this article:
Security expert used Tor to collect government e-mail passwords
For me, I tend to use encryption methods, so free is still good for me. 🙂 But here’s an alternative for people who don’t mind paying a little for complete security:
Steganos Internet Anonym VPN
I have always loved Steganos–their security and encryption and especially their user-friendliness have always been fantastic! (Encryption has generally been a very user-UNfriendly business.) This Anonymous VPN creates an encrypted tunnel to one of their managed servers (in Germany I believe) when then anonymizes your traffic. The downside is that you have to trust their corporate intent–but I think it’s OK in this case, Steganos is well respected in the security world for commercial products. And the cost of this home version of Anonym VPN actually doesn’t look too unreasonable. I’ve used trial versions before, and the speed is just great.

More Update: By the way, one of the commentors on BoingBoing provided a fantastic reminder/reality check when considering ‘net security:
http://www.boingboing.net/2007/12/10/howto-use-tor-to-pro.html#comment-90721

The primary problem is that people confuse ‘security’ with a number of other things. In this case for Internet communications, there are three things that people are assuming a ‘secure’ connection affords them:

1) Encryption : No one can read my words.

2) Anonymity : No one knows who sent my words.

3) In-traceability : No one can trace my words back to me.

TOR was never meant to do anything other than #3. #1 is done through SSL, SSH, or some other encrypting tool. #2 is done through remailers, or configuration of the messaging.

TOR works great for what it was meant for. But calling it a ‘secure’ connection is misleading.