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Table of Contents
Internet Anonymity and the Web 2.0 Revolution
The Nuts and Bolts of Internet Anonymity
	The Internet: A Brief Technical Overview
	Deanonymizing Data in Network Protocols
	Existing Techniques for Anonymity
	Deanonymizing Web Clients with Quirkiness
	Experimentally Measuring Quirkiness
	Deanonymization with Web-based Applications
	Consequences for Anonymity Online
Individual Perceptions of Internet Anonymity
	Survey Methodology
	Survey Results
	Resources on Internet Anonymity
	The Psychology of Web Search: A Bleak Picture
Internet Anonymity Policy
	The Case for Anonymity Online
	The Legal Status of Anonymity in the United States
	The Case Against Anonymity Online
	A Mature Policy for a Mature Internet
The “Virus of Liberty”
Appendix A: Survey
Appendix B: Proofs
Appendix C: Source Code
Document Text Contents
Page 1

“Any person... a pamphleteer”
Internet Anonymity in the Age of Web 2.0


Jonathan R. Mayer

April 7, 2009

A Senior Thesis presented to the Faculty of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public
and International A�airs in partial ful�llment of the requirements for the degree of
Bachelor of Arts.

Page 2

In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the
debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conver-
sation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon
which wings beat.

John Perry Barlow, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

Page 51

(a) Microsoft Internet Explorer 8

(b) Mozilla Firefox 3.1 Beta

(c) Apple Safari 4 Beta

(d) Google Chrome Beta

Figure 3.2: Private browsing notices provided by the major browsers in Windows XP.


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Anonymity words Action words Object words
anonymous browse internet
anonymously browsing online
anonymity surf web


Table 3.1: Query terms expected to be employed by a web searcher attempting to
find information on Internet anonymity.

Result Number of Queries Percentage of Queries
Did not appear 147 56.3%
First page 43 16.5%
Second page 30 11.5%
Third page 25 9.6%
Fourth page 8 3.1%
Fifth page 8 3.1%
Total queries 261 100%

Table 3.2: The appearance of the Tor Project’s site in response to generated Google
search queries.

with WordPress.16 The Electronic Frontier Foundation, meanwhile, offers a high-level

whitepaper that flags Tor and several other tools for exploration.17

Unfortunately, these sites routinely fail to appear in Google search results, and

the Wikipedia article “Tor” is only discovered through a “Related Pages” link at the

bottom of the “Anonymous web browsing” article. To empirically demonstrate this

subjective analysis a script was developed to perform automated evaluation of Google

search results. Queries followed a simple three-word template intended to roughly

model what an individual might construct:18 some permutation of an anonymity-

16. Global Voices Advocacy, “Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor”, http://advocacy.

17. Electronic Frontier Foundation, “How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else)”, http:

18. Historical search patterns show users are most likely to submit a three word or less query.
Nadine Hochstotter and Martina Koch, “Standard parameters for searching behaviour in search
engines and their empirical evaluation”, Journal of Information Science 35, no. 1 (2009): 45–65.


Page 102

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Sun Microsystems. “JDK 6 Security-related APIs & Developer Guides”. http://

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“Tor: Overview”.

“Tor: Sponsors”.

“Torbutton FAQ”.

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United Nations General Assembly. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
December 10, 1948.

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. “US-CERT Vulnerability


Page 103

United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With
Respect to Intelligence Activities. “Supplementary Detailed Staff Reports On
Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans, Book III”. 1976. http://

“United States v. American Library Association”.

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Wallace, Jonathan D. “Nameless in Cyberspace: Anonymity on the Internet”. CATO
Institute Briefing Papers, no. 54 (1999).

Wang, Xiaoyun and Hongbo Yu. “How to break MD5 and other hash functions”. In
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Wayner, Peter. “Technology for Anonymity: Names by Other Nyms”. The Informa-
tion Society 15, no. 2 (1999): 91–97.

Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group. “HTML 5 Draft Recommen-
dation”. April 4, 2009.


Woodward, Bob. The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat. New York,
NY: Simon & Schuster, 2005.

Yee, Bennet et al. “Native Client: A Sandbox for Portable, Untrusted x86 Native
Code”. In 2009 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. 2009.

Yost, David S. “Debating security strategies”. NATO Review, no. 4 (2003).

“Zeran v. America Online, Inc.”

Zetter, Kim. “Embassy E-mail Account Vulnerability Exposes Passport Data and
Official Business Matters”. Wired Threat Level (August 31, 2007). http://blog.

———. “Rogue Nodes Turn Tor Anonymizer Into Eavesdropper’s Paradise”. Wired
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Øverlier, Lasse and Paul Syverson. “Locating Hidden Servers”. In SP ’06: Proceedings
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