Online anonymity has become an impactful concern, affecting all internet users. The predictions of a grim future in which information technologies negatively affect our lives are slowly becoming a reality. The power to control and manipulate digital information results in the creation of highly addictive yet necessary products that dictate our modern lives.
By drawing billions of users into actively engaging with social media networks, new gadgets, and software, tech giants have the power to spy on unsuspecting individuals and monitor every movement. With enough digital footprints, companies can profile website visitors and users of their products to extract private information. Even if, allegedly, the collected data is used to maximize the usefulness and relevance of suggestions and future products, the extracted knowledge is very profitable and shows no respect for the user’s privacy.
No matter how enjoyable the modern tools and their improvements are, each step in progress has slowly killed user anonymity. Today, it is near impossible to have a complete private browsing experience or use modern gadgets without disclosing some personal information.
All devices are trackable by their IP address. If we all shared our IPs and used each other’s devices as proxy servers, no one would be able to track our location or activities unless we logged in somewhere. In this article, we will discuss Peer-to-Peer (P2P)IP sharing — how it is done, what are the most popular examples, and how the process contributes to online anonymity. Some companies even pay users for P2P IP sharing.
However, disclosing your main address for such practices is not recommended, as it will only attract more privacy and security risks. We can observe similar practices in the usage of proxy servers from legitimate providers that offer residential IPs. They are alike because they come from real devices supplied by internet service providers.
Residential IPs are better for commercial and company tasks that require anonymity. With a business-oriented proxy provider, you can get thousands of residential IPs with much more stable internet speed and a smaller chance of having the address blacklisted on popular websites. For now, let’s take a closer look at P2P IP sharing, where it shines, and where it falls flat.
Why P2P sharing became popular
P2P communication turns participant users into nodes that act as a redistribution point for others and communication points for interacting computers. Every participant is anonymized with overlay networks — a routing technique that creates layers of participating networks to hide the approximate physical location contained in an IP address. The growing distrust in user data management in giant tech companies and government agencies sparks the panic over mass surveillance and misuse of private information. Anonymous P2P systems reduce the digital footprint that attaches many strings to each movement on the web.
Of course, the usage of anonymity tools by hackers and cybercriminals brings controversy to the whole debate. For the internet user with no trust in both parties, privacy ensures that everyone remains innocent until proven guilty. If government agencies brute force the discovery of criminals, the simplification of such tasks will lead to the creation of new systems and policies, where law enforcement and tech companies have power over everything. P2P sharing fights for the protection of online anonymity and free speech. The party that sees everyone can catch criminals very easily, but it can also abuse the power to create new rules that benefit them or fit their agenda.
Solution — ToR browser
The growing lack of anonymity and possibility to use the web for tracking has concerned tech-savvy users as long as 30 years ago. The development of onion routing — the idea of anonymous layers through encrypted computer networks to ensure as much privacy in the browsing experience as possible.
To make sure that everyone is on equal footing, with privacy and anonymity seen as the top priority ToR (The onion Router) network started its life in the early 2000s under a free license and accepted volunteers for the aforementioned nodes that layer the network. The project grew to strengthen its applicability and battle unjust attempts of internet blocking and censorship. The popularity of ToR, its browser, and other privacy and anonymity tools only kept growing with the biggest explosion in 2013, when the NSA whistleblower and a champion of internet privacy, Edward Snowden, revealed the harsh, severely underestimated reality of mass surveillance.
Privacy and anonymity in the workplace
While modern companies have many data-sensitive tasks, they cannot follow the same rules as private users. The ToR browser utilizes P2P communication for the highest level of anonymity but the process gives an unstable, slower internet speed, constant changes in geolocations, and the used nodes often have their IP addresses banned on popular websites. While they offer a lesser layer of anonymity, residential proxies offer a great middle-ground that improves the performance metrics for business-related tasks without endangering the network identity of a company.