Friday, April 9, 2010
Anonymity and the FBI
I am a longtime reader of the MoHo blogosphere but never a contributor for one simple reason: paranoia of leaving an electronic trail.
In this life, I have been blessed with a natural and innate understanding of technology. With that comes the burden and knowledge that nothing you do online is ever anonymous.
Because of Internet providers, tracking software and Google, I know that any anonymous posting can essentially be tracked back to the computer used to post it if you have the time and resources.
I was utterly convinced that if I posted anything on a MoHo blog, it would give me up and the FBI would be seconds away from breaking down the front door and hauling me away.
Well, maybe not that dramatic, but I was sure that my communications would be catalogued somewhere and used against me at a later date. I didn't know if ever wanted to do something in the public eye or run for office one day so I kept my distance.
I made certain that every trip online was followed by a good scrubbing of my history, Internet cache and cookies with the occasional use of a scrambler to hide my computer's IP address.
Looking back, I can see that my efforts to maintain my anonymity were a way of protecting the divide between the two worlds I live in concurrently. Ultimately, I was frightened to death if my parents found out. Still am.
So what has changed? Why am I posting here and now?
I was tired of living in the shadows, silently celebrating your triumphs and accomplishments and quietly mourning your trials, setbacks and sufferings. I wanted to participate. I wanted to share and be part of the community that I had so much in common with.
And I eventually realized that if someone had the time and resources to track my anonymous postings on a MoHo blog back to me, there were worse things they would find than a journal of boyhood angst and misunderstanding.
So to the clerical assistant in the dark suit with an earpiece sitting in the desk chair reading this post in a musty underground office at FBI headquarters, feel free to put this in my file under “Harmless Ramblings - Possible Future Blackmail.”