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anonymous website

How To Create An Anonymous Website

by Bill Rounds Esq. on October 11, 2011

Reading time: 5 – 8 minutes

Free speech is threatened when corrupt forces can pressure the means of distributing speech.  Corrupt governments all over the world, or corrupt elements within governments, use the methods at their disposal to silence uncomfortable speech.  One of the main methods they use is to threaten the source of speech.

Anonymous speech is important, even for more mundane reasons than scathing political criticism. Advocates of medical marijuana, proponents of evolution, gay rights activists, critics of local police, and many others may need the protection of anonymous speech to protect themselves while they voice their opinion.  Efforts to censor online speech are doomed to fail because people will find ways to publish unflattering material online without leaving any trace of identity behind.

To publish a website, there are several points of weakness where identifying information could be gleaned. Political activists and whistleblowers will be able to easily circumvent identity requirements at each one of these points, allowing them to anonymously publish material online with an anonymous website.

Anonymous Website Domain Name

A website needs a domain name (one of those .com things) which must be bought and paid for through a domain registry like GoDaddy.  Most domain registries allow people to protect their identity by using a domain registration proxy.  Using these proxies is not sufficient to protect identity because identifying information must still be shared with the proxy, which can be pressured to reveal it.

To prevent the domain registry from revealing their identity to anyone, political activists will simply enter pseudanonymous information, like Publius or Silence Dogood.  If they are really sneaky they may even enter the information of a competitor to register their domain or use an anonymous domain registrar.

Anonymous Website Payment

An important link in the chain is payment for services.  Even if a pen name is provided, the person paying for the domain name could easily be tracked down by ruthless government officials by tracking down the source of payment, making an anonymous website less anonymous.

To avoid leaving an audit trail back to their own financial accounts, political journalists may pay for their domain name with a money order paid for in cash, use a prepaid credit card (which they paid cash to acquire) or pay with Bitcoins.

There are several companies that offer domain name registration for Bitcoins. Even Internet behemoth WordPress accepts bitcoins for all services for the specific goal of promoting freedom of speech. If they send payment from a Bitcoin address that has not been published anywhere else then it will be hard to trace payments to them.

Anonymous Email

Domain registrars need to communicate with owners to provide information, remind them about renewals, and other things.  Most of that communication is done by email.  Whistleblowers will easily be able to set up an anonymous email address with any free email service like Mailinator.

Anonymous Website Hosting

Another critical part of maintaining a website is a server to host the website.  Most websites are hosted by a web hosting company. As with domain registry, activists will use pseudonyms and anonymous email addresses to create their accounts to host their politically sensitive websites.  And, they will pay with cash, prepaid credit cards or bitcoins with a web hosting service like Ice Servers, which is located in Iceland, and protected by extremely strong freedom of speech laws.

Anonymous IP Address

As an extra layer of protection, anytime smart political dissidents connect to the domain registrar, set up or log into their email, connect to their web hosting company, or log into their website to post information, they will use anonymous web surfing techniquesTor is free and easy, proxy servers are available all over the world.

VPNs, especially those based offshore, will prevent authorities searching through service provider records from discovering the IP address of political activists.  These methods are also a way to circumvent government blocked sites, a common practice in places like China. We recommend Private Internet Access because they accept bitcoins. Never trust a VPN unless they accept bitcoins for payment.

Continuing Threats

Even if a clever political critic takes all of these measures, they are of course still subject to censorship from corrupt pressure on service providers to cut off service.  The domain could be seized by government officials or the web host server could be confiscated. This is a reason to avail oneself of particular jurisdictions, like Iceland, that are extremely protective of freedom of speech and averse to censorship. The activist themselves would still be protected and they would be able to republish their information in other locations.

Even in the absence of legal action, a domain registrar, or a web hosting company can always be pressured to take information down. Offshore companies in jurisdictions that are unfriendly to the criticized government may be harder to pressure.

Conclusion

Free speech and the ability to dissent is threatened by censorship that results from threats of imprisonment, violence and assassination.  Those threats are less effective to prevent people from publishing on the internet when people can easily publish information completely anonymously.

For more techniques on protecting anonymity, check out the book How To Vanish and the upcoming report for political activists: Five Steps To Anonymous Online Speech.

 

 

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7 comments

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bill Rounds, Esq. is a California attorney. He holds a degree in Accounting from the University of Utah and a law degree from California Western School of Law. He practices civil litigation, domestic and foreign business entity formation and transactions, criminal defense and privacy law. He is a strong advocate of personal and financial freedom and civil liberties. This is merely one article of 123 by .
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous0407 November 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I been doing this stuff for years, literally.

I’ve even tested my anonmity through the use of a family member in naval intelligence. Even he could not get any information on me :) And he tried really hard, so I am covered.

However, I disagree with “packaging” such common sense actions for the use of sale. information and Knowledge is FREE. We Anonymous have made that point quite clear. Being Anonymous is NOT a marketing scam.

2 Anonymous August 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm

AnonPage.com is a simple, free alternative to using bitcoin’s web hosting.

3 Don November 7, 2012 at 10:24 am

Thanks for the article. Let me comment on a couple of things.

First, I was dismayed to find your link titled “free email service” goes to Yahoo!, hardly a haven for those who want anonymous or near-anonymous and free e-mail. As a start, I recommend people check out this (http://freecentral2.tripod.com/freemail.htm) list. There are numerous web-based e-mail providers that can be found there.

Second, I recommend using either Lavabit.com or Vfemail.net. I use both and have had little issue with them. These providers allow for secure connections (SSL) and give a modest e-mail account for free. They also are not strictly web-based. I use them both almost exclusively through both Thunderbird and Outlook.

And, yeah, I neither work for them nor get any type of remuneration for recommending them.

Nonetheless, thanks for the article and all the recommendations. The posts here are always a good read.

4 Randy Scott April 5, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Love your knowledge and advice. Have considered getting the book but not sure which edition your on our if its relevant as when first published as technology is changing so fast. Keep up the good work

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