What's the big deal about anonymous payment?

Discussion in 'privacy technology' started by juide, Oct 11, 2013.

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  1. juide

    juide Registered Member

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    Hello!

    Im new to here so take it easy :doubt:

    Im just wondering, why ppl are so worried about anonymous payment?

    When u have the vpn, ur isp will see (only) that u use vpn (and probably which vpn) so what does it matter to have anonymous payment?

    Or is it about this: If somebody asks ur info FROM the vpn provoider, they cant provoide anything??
     
  2. cb474

    cb474 Registered Member

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    There are a lot of threads on this already here. You might want to take a look at the recent thread I started about Paypal vs. Bitcoin as payment methods:

    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=354253

    I think there are probably two categories of people in question and if you don't fall into the first (below) it would be easy to think, what's the big deal.

    1) There are people who really are dissidents in countries with oppressive political regimes or live in such countries and want to look at content that would be innocuous for many of us, but could get them in trouble. So for anyone, anywhere, who could bring imprisonment or physical harm to themselves, through their online activity, obviously complete anonymity in all respects is important. Hence threads here discuss the ways and possibilities to achieve that.

    2) The rest of us who just want some privacy. Anonymous payment probably (maybe) is not a big deal. But there are some potential benefits even for the rest of us. I suggest you read the thread I link to above and others that can be found here easily by searching around.

    2a) I also think there are some people who just want to maintain complete anonymity out of principle or because the process of getting there is interesting to them.

    3) And I'll add a third category, now that I think about it, even though I suggested only two categories above. Even in supposedly free societies these days, depending on who you are, what you believe, the color of your skin, your religion, it's not that hard to fall into some sort of Kafkaesque nightmare of surveillance and arrest, for having done nothing at all. Many of us take for granted this can't happen to us, because we fit into some more mainstream category, but that's not the reality for everyone. So someone like that might want to just play it safe and keep it anonymous to avoid the (sometimes life destroying) hassle of blanket dragnet style suspicions. Although sadly, most people who could benefit from this probably do not have the knowledge, time, or resources to protect themselves.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2013
  3. Taliscicero

    Taliscicero Registered Member

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    Don't worry about anonymous payment as long as your are not in China/Iran. You should be completely fine despite what other say.
     
  4. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    I just can't let that go by ;)

    It depends on what you're protecting. Many Wilders users are, as I am, privacy hobbyists. But the audience that I write for includes people who actually need privacy, for whatever reasons, no matter where they are.
     
  5. Taliscicero

    Taliscicero Registered Member

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    Yeah but dude, 99% of people don't want to go through a 5 hour process to sign up to a VPN when they just want to watch American/UK TV or torrent.
     
  6. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    You have a point :)

    I probably ought to include a disclaimer by default about that ;)
     
  7. ams963

    ams963 Registered Member

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    +1......Just couldn't agree more.:thumb:
     
  8. Taliscicero

    Taliscicero Registered Member

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    You know man, you/we should just have a website page up some-where that we can link to when people want more complex solutions. It would be much more easy then just typing it out every time. I don't know why someone does not just do that, have a page up with tabs explaining "everything" about VPN so others don't have to keep posting the same info again and again, would be nice just to be able to link everyone to the same place.
     
  9. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    I've written a long series of tutorials about all of this, for one of the privacy-centric VPN providers. It'll go online as soon as staff have time. I gather that they're swamped with new customers, required infrastructure expansion and upgrading, support requests, and so on. In retrospect, I took too long to finish it. If Snowden could have just waited another few weeks, my tutorials would be up already.

    On the other hand, it's very useful to work on new questions, because I see things that I missed, think of better ways to do things, etc.

    Edit: I've come to like the StackExchange format, after working quite a bit on <-http://tor.stackexchange.com->. It's an interesting hybrid of wiki and forum. Both questions and answers are voted up or down, and can be group edited.
     
  10. cb474

    cb474 Registered Member

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    That's true. It can be a pain (as I'm learning). But I think what people do and don't want to do should be separated from the question of what are the benefits (or not). Simply because people do not (or won't) do something, doesn't mean it's a bad idea. And I think it's at least worth understanding, when one chooses to just pay with PayPal, what the downsides of that could be. There's no reason to do something just based on blind assurances. And of course, as I say above, there are people in different situations with different needs and different values, so there's not just one pat general answer that's appropriate for everyone. In addition, because so much of what the most powerful government agencies do is secret, it's hard to say X is okay or good enough. Again, however one pays for a VPN, it's worth having some idea what the consequences may or may not be.

    *

    As with all forums, if people did a little searching they wouldn't need to repost the same questions. And a simple link (or suggestion that someone try searching) is easier than retyping it all.

    That being said, if mirimir wanted to share his tutorials with wilders, I suppose they could get linked into the sticky thread at the top of this section of the forum. That's how a lot of the better forums deal with guides from the most knowledgeable members.

    But I hope to see your tutorials soon wherever they appear. Be sure to let wilders users know.
     
  11. Taliscicero

    Taliscicero Registered Member

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    @cb474

    I have said it before, but there is really no logical reason for a normal person to use any hidden payment methods. I and others should be happy/fine with anyone knowing they use a VPN, as long as the VPN data stays private who cares someone knows you use it. It is even worse if you try to hide that you use one as that draws more attention to you then you would get buying the thing normally. Your only real reason for going through the trouble to pay anonymously is if your paranoid or into web crime. Your ISP knows your using a VPN the moment you connect to it, the NSA knows your using a VPN the second they see your connecting only to one IP ever. Its a moot point and causes more harm then good to hide your payment, for anyone that's not doing bad things.
     
  12. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    That's only true for the direct-connect VPN (VPN1).

    While the NSA knows that somebody using VPN1 is connecting to VPN2, they don't know that it's you (rather than all the other VPN1 users) without doing some traffic analysis.

    Why make it easy for them?
     
  13. ComputerSaysNo

    ComputerSaysNo Registered Member

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    Taliscicero everyone deserves privacy whether your into webcrime (history has shown us that webcrime forums are infected with informants and governemt running black op's) or just the ordinary citizen.

    You can't have it both ways, either there is privacy for all of us or none of us. You can't discriminate otherwise you end up like we are now with the NSA tapping everything and no one having any privacy what so ever.

    The NSA facility in Utah has 125TB of disk space per person in the world to fill up, do you really want your 125TB to include your credit card details and paypal details. I think not.
     
  14. Taliscicero

    Taliscicero Registered Member

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    Yeah, but again 99% of VPN users are not gonna want to make nested tunnels to run two VPN's together through visualization, just to watch UK/American TV or torrent. Nor would they need to, why would an average user need this?

    First 125 TB of data for every human being on the planet is unrealistic and could never be managed by human beings. You would need sentient robots and even then you can't tell me that there would not be an amazing amount of hardware failures, In-fact you cant get a big enough electrical pipe to run that many machines non stop.

    Also, you think your PayPal details are not of a NSA computer? You think a VPN can protect you from that? Don't make me laugh. I stand by what I say about web crime, it really is other then paranoia the only reason to go as far as nesting VPN's and anonymous currency.
     
  15. cb474

    cb474 Registered Member

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    Yes, you do keep asseting things like that, here and in other threads. But just asserting it doesn't make it true. And I don't think you really read my posts above very closely, since I gave plenty of other scenarios in which one would want anonymity for their payment.

    Pretending that there's just average citizens and then criminals is a huge over simplification. There are whisteblowers, people who live in oppressive political regimes, people who because of their religion or color of their skin or other factors become targets for literally no reason, people who express politically unpopular positions, and then as ComputerSaysNo says there are people who just want more privacy on principle. And then there is the possible consequences of having every possible piece of information about a particular individual's activities collected by a political regime that may have no use for most of it now, but history tells us such files on individuals eventually get abused for purposes that had little to do with the reasons they were initially collected. Why add to that?

    So I think you're really trying to make PayPal payment seem totally innocuous, through huge oversimplifications. It may be fine for a lot of people, but the idea that the only person who would need more anonymitiy is a criminal is just wrong.

    Next, yes of course it's possible to see that one's IP address connects to a particular VPN, even if one has paid anonymously. I think you know that everyone involved in this thread knows that since it's been pointed out many times, including by myself, in other threads that you have participated in, including in a thread that I started specifically about that exact point and in which you participated. But, as mirimir pointed out, in another thread, your IP address alone does not necessarily count in court as personally identifying information (and their are plenty of people who end up in court who are not criminals and never expected to by there). Whereas a PayPal payment obviously is loaded with clear personally identifying information. Whether that's an issue for a particular VPN user or not is up to them to decide.

    In the end, I'm not advocating people pay with Bitcoin or cash, over PayPaly. I already said that above. Paying anonymously is a pain. I also already agreed with you on that point.

    All I said was that there are some differences between paying one way or the other and it is to people's benefit to understand those differences, whatever choice they make. I think anyone interested in using a VPN service cares enough about privacy (and is enough already in a very small subset of internet users) that they probably would be interested in honest answers about the differences between paying for a VPN service in different ways.

    Waving your hands, over generalizing, and saying it makes no difference, I think, does not help anyone--even if the differences may be considered relatively small by many users. People should understand the differences and make their own decisions. People should not make decisions based on blind generalizing assurances from unknown people in forums.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  16. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    We agree on that (except that it's "virtualization" not "visualization").

    I think that the following is an accurate restatement:

    1) It's impossible for the NSA to analyze all intercepted data for everyone.
    2) Everyone's PayPal details are on NSA computers.
    3) Using VPNs can't protect you from the NSA knowing PayPal details and/or o_O
    4) Only criminals and paranoids use nested VPNs and anonymous currency.

    This seems somewhat recursive and paradoxic. Combining 1) and 2) I get that the NSA knows PayPal details for everyone, but they can't analyze all of the data that they've collected. That's reasonable, but there's a large uncategorized range of information between PayPal details and everything.

    Combining 3) and 4) I get that only criminals and paranoids would try to hide from the NSA using nested VPNs and anonymous currency, but that they would fail. I agree with others that there's similarly a large uncategorized range of users.

    I do agree, however, that just using nested VPNs probably can't protect one from the NSA, at least if they're looking specifically at you. In that case, you want to add Tor to the mix. There's at least a chance, it seems, that Tor would protect you, and that properly adding VPNs to the mix would help. NSA's major success against Tor users has reportedly involved compromise through exploits, not attacks on Tor protocols.
     
  17. Taliscicero

    Taliscicero Registered Member

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    I use different modes of logic to make my claims. I use the NSA as my most basic perspective. Sure, real people are not always criminals or normal people but the NSA is not in that thought. NSA works on two modes "Criminal / Citizen" mode. Whistle-blower is a criminal to the NSA, someone from Iran who talks out about there government is a criminal, someone who is a homosexual in some places is still looked at as a criminal, sure these people may not be to us but to the people out to harm them this is exactly what they are. 99% of people I am always talking about are under the "Citizen" mode for the NSA, which basically means there are white noise to the NSA, simple people who they filter out as they care not about people downloading music etc because there is no reward for finding them.
     
  18. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    @Taliscicero

    I get your point that we're either "interesting" or "noise".

    Generally, that's true.

    The problem is that at least metadata gets saved for all the "noise". So if you at some point become interesting, your entire history is readily available.

    On the other hand, it is possible that trying to hide makes one "interesting". That is a concern for using Tor, I think. But there are so many VPN users, especially since the Snowden leaks, that investigating all of them would arguably be burdensome.
     
  19. ComputerSaysNo

    ComputerSaysNo Registered Member

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    Why should the NSA be allowed un-restricted access to my metadata? Why should the NSA be allowed to collect my cellphone data? Why should the NSA be able to run malware campaigns like the criminals do infecting my machine my machine in the process when I've done nothing wrong at all?

    They do not have the moral right to collect that information let alone legal right in some cases. Yet they do it anyway. They do not draw the line between criminal and citizen in their collection of data, it's all stored and as mirirmir says what happens when you do become a target?

    I'll tell you what blackmail, getting sent to prison on false charges and being treated like a terrorist. EVERYTHING is interesting to them, that's why Utah exists to capture everything and everyone.

    You can bet the NSA runs some of the biggest file share hosting sites on the net for metadata collection. Because if they can pop Freedom Hosting and Silk Road why haven't poped the biggest file trackers out there?
     
  20. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    I think that it's mostly, as they say, that they can't avoid collecting everything about everyone in the process of collecting everything about anyone who might be interesting, or who might be communicating with someone interesting, etc out to o_O levels. There's just too much data!

    And once they have all that, they keep all the metadata (at least) just in case.

    That's what I'd do, if I had their job ;)

    Please don't flame me, bro ;)
     
  21. ComputerSaysNo

    ComputerSaysNo Registered Member

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    No flame brother, we are all in this together.

    I agree I'd do what they are doing if I was them if I had the capability, but some of the Snowden leaks are truly disgusting from a civil rights and liberty standpoint. Some are just ethically wrong, other's morally wrong.

    Don't get me wrong I hate pedo's and terrorists but that doesn't excuse this kind of dragnet behavior.
     
  22. cb474

    cb474 Registered Member

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    I think the NSA is far more sophisticated than simple citizen and criminal distinctions or noise and interesting. That being said, I think I probably see things fairly closely to how ComputerSaysNo puts it.

    The way the NSA collects data wholesale takes an approach, if I were to borrow Taliscicero terminology, that's more like criminal and potential future criminal. No one is not suspect or potentially suspect in the future. Hence the approach, this may not be useful information now, but in the future if this person ever finds themselves to be a person of interest, we'll got back an look at everything they ever did.

    The problem with this is that: 1) It is incredibly open to abuse. Who knows in whose hands this information will fall in the future (even if one trusts the NSA now--although I don't know that I would). 2) It is very easy to retrospectively take the past actions of an individual and make them look as if they lead up to some present action, suggesting that they always had criminal tendencies, even if this is not at all the case. So even perfectly innocent, legal, legitimate behavior (such as using a VPN) can be retroactively construed as part of the circumstantial evidence of nefarious behavior later on.

    So I think the idea that anyone really is just "noise" or a "citizen" that the NSA and the like do not care about is over slimplifying things and really ignoring the lessons of history.

    I also agree with ComputerSaysNo that, however useful the data may or may not be now or in the future, people have the right to privacy. They have the right to not have everything they do recorded forever by government agencies. The harm of that intrusion (and the corrosive effect it has on people's sense of freedom) is far greater than whatever harm the intrustion is supposedly protecting us from. So the whole, I'm not doing anything wrong so it doesn't matter attitude (in which case why use a VPN at all?), I think is naive.
     
  23. pcdoctor36

    pcdoctor36 Registered Member

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    There are those who need privacy and those who want privacy. It is hard for a newb to ascertain which cattegory they fall in. Mirimir I submit we all need privacy? Have you ever gone spelunking (TOR, I2P2, Freenet)? If so you are probably in a three letter gov't database as a potential threat. The US goverment database is second only to China. We have entered an age in time where informed conspiracy theorists are more often right then they are wrong. What you are protecting is the right to speak freely.

     
  24. pcdoctor36

    pcdoctor36 Registered Member

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    @Mirmir - I suspect you are slightly off course when it comes to the NSA. First, I suspect we are on the same page regarding Utah. When fully functional Utah will be able to store all domestic data. Hence the bottomless data well. Most see that. However, Utah is way more sophisticated then just the bottomless data well. Algorythims that automatically decrypt. Sophisticated automated data mining that pulls data from Facebook, Twitter, Social Security, Flickr, Yellowbook, DMV, court records used to correlate who a given individual or group of people are and stored in relational databases. Yes, there is a lot of data. It is my deep suspicion that the NSA has the ability to sort that data through the processes I have mentioned. Who the hell knows what we arn't aware of. I am pleased Snowden came foreward.


     
  25. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    Yes, I've "gone spelunking". But I've never done that except through at least two chained VPNs. Mirimir is definitly on lists. Whether [SHADOW="grey"]name redacted[/SHADOW] is on lists is less certain.
     
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