Via BoingBoing and Toorcon comes a pointer to a great new HOWTO: How to Speak Anonymously in Public. Alan Bradley and Kevin Flynn apparently gave the talk on memory cloaking with only a laptop and video projection at the podium, tunnelling the talk and slides from a remote location over Tor so the connection couldn’t be traced back to the speakers.
Along with its detailed technical explanation, the guide points to lots of the subtle pitfalls that might trap the tyro anonymous speaker. As Seth has also pointed out, many of the challenges are more social than technical: Programs might leave automatic timestamps in the timezone set on your local machine, or you might be unavailable at times matching sleep patterns on the U.S. East Coast. Your applications might “phone home” for updates, or your real-world friends might all show surprising interest in the anonymous speaker’s subject. Purchasing obscure components or doing research might link you to the subject. Voice distortion software can change the pitch and cadence of your speech, but not unique turns of phrase.
It’s hard to do anonymity well, and it gets harder when governments tap phone and Internet providers and ask for data retention, but it’s also a critical First Amendment value. Wish I could have been there!