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Proxy.org is the pragmatic Web surfer's guide to online privacy and anonymous web surfing. We give you the information and tools you need to be confident and in command of your Web surfing experience. Here you'll find information on the latest privacy issues facing Web consumers and links to relevant privacy technology. Proxy.org has the most comprehensive list of working proxies in the most convienient form.

Your right to anonymity

Amendments 9 and 10 of The United States Bill Of Rights protect the right to be free of unwarranted and unwanted government intrusion into one's personal and private affairs, papers, and possessions. Article 12 of The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

Despite some charges to the contrary, anonymous Web surfing is not the sole province of criminals. Anonymity also serves whistle blowers, free speech advocates, and people just looking for personal privacy online. Privacy is not a crime and anonymity is not morally ambiguous or wrong, it is your right.

Technical challenges to online privacy

The Internet didn't evolve with privacy in mind. In fact, the protocols that provide the fundamental underpinnings of the Internet are inherently non-anonymous. It's just a simple matter of computers needing to know each other's addresses in order to exchange data. For instance, our server has recorded your Internet Protocol (IP) address as 209.202.224.52. Other characteristics that a server can detect about you are your referrer (the site from which you are linking), the user-agent (the program you are using to browse the Web), and your operating system.

What does your IP address reveal about you?

Your IP address reveals your point of entry to the Internet and can be used to trace your communications back to your ISP, your employer's network, your school, a public terminal. Your IP is uniquely identifiable and it represents your digital ID while you are online.

It is possible to shield yourself from the the Web by using an anonymous proxy service. A proxy acts as an intermediary, routing communications between your computer and the Internet. A proxy specializing in anonymous surfing, however, uses its own IP address in place of yours in every outgoing request.

Approaches to proxy

Proxies are commonly used for several reasons: security, load balancing, data caching in order to reduce bandwidth demands, and censorship or filtering. Filtering proxies insulate you from objectionable elements of Webpages such as cookies, ad banners, dynamic content like Javascript, Java Applets and ActiveX controls. Some anonymous proxies encrypt your Web communications, protecting you from routine monitoring or even dedicated surveillance. Comparing and contrasting the various features can be confusing. There are two basic approaches to anonymous proxy service delivery:

  • HTTP Proxies: These proxies require that you configure your browser's proxy settings in order to use them. Direct proxies have the advantage of being compatible with all webpages since they do not have to modify the requested page to keep you anonymous. However, there are two major disavantages to using a direct proxy:

    1. Almost all direct proxies, including subscription-based services, utilize computers that might be compromised, operated by government agencies, or operated by malicious individuals. These untrusted proxies are known as "open proxies" because they are computers on the Internet which are left open for all to use. We strongly discourage the use of open proxies for any security purpose.

    2. It can be difficult to set up, but you won't have to change your browser's proxy setting often. If your ISP or network uses a proxy (such as AOL) then you can't use this method.

    Some subscription-based services offer client-side application software to automatically configure your browser's proxy settings. Do not be fooled by these services, most are merely open proxies with a fancy interface.

    Proxy.org recommends: Socksify. See this page for a complete list of open HTTP proxies.

  • CGI Proxies: These proxies work entirely through a Web browser. Usually all that is needed to surf anonymously is to visit the service's homepage in a Web browser and enter a URL (website address) in the form provided. There should't be any requirement to download or install software or reconfigure your computer. To work, a CGI based proxy must manipulate the document you've requested and all its associated elements and objects. This can be tricky, and not all proxies are as efficient or effective as others. Some services are slow and may produce errors while rendering the many variations of Web page code. But they are popular, numerous and easy to use.

    Proxy.org recommends: Proxify. See this page for a complete list of CGI based proxies.




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Last updated: 2005-11-30 @ 2PM EST