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Anonymous DSL
by Karl Bode 11:19AM Thursday Mar 18 2004
Bway.net is hoping to lure RIAA wary customers with a new anonymous DSL service dubbed AnonDSL. The company says the service is "the ultimate tool for protecting your identity from tracking by the RIAA, MPAA or anyone else" because it makes your "online activities untraceable." According to the product's FAQ, Bway claims users "are entitled to privacy on your Internet connection" and Bway has "created this service to meet that need".

Since the RIAA began issuing subpoenas, privacy has become a very big business. Systems like AnonX are becoming increasingly common, offering a VPN connection between the user and the company's hosted proxy servers; providing a degree of anonymity for $4.95 a month. Other pure software solutions are popular, such as Steganos Internet Anonym Pro 6, which bounces you through a different public proxy server each second.

Unlike these other services, Bway.net says their new service doesn't make use of proxy servers. While the company won't go into specifics, Bway's Joe Plotkin informs us it's "a combination of dynamic addressing and our decision not to retain logs on this service." Bway likely assigns a special pool of rotating IP addresses to users who subscribe to the service, but doesn't keep logs of the leases.

When the RIAA or Lars Ulrich comes knocking, Bway can only confirm that the user was one of their customers, but not which customer; with no amount of legal pressure able to change that. Plotkin notes the company simply "cannot supply information we do not possess."

According to the FAQ, the service isn't available to every DSL subscriber. For obvious reasons, users who have a static IP address assigned aren't able to make use of the service. Plotkin also notes that AnonDSL "is not available on circuits with PPPoE because that requires an authentication process." Since Plotkin says Bway provides non-PPPoE circuits, users interested in the service can simply switch.

Obviously the question arises: what happens if an AnonDSL user commits a serious crime? One can only hope the service won't become a campground for the ethically challenged.

"Criminal activity will always exist -- and like the corner payphone, there are many methods of clandestine communications," says Plotkin. "Bway.net merely makes it impossible to trace back activity from an IP address to a customer's identity. We believe our customers are overwhelmingly law abiding citizens. We would, however, comply with any proper subpoena."

"In this case, ignorance is bliss -- or at least offers some peace of mind," says Plotkin.


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