Dynamic IPs and Anonymous Surfing: an Open Letter to my ISP

Dear Speakeasy folks,

I’m sure you’ve heard about AOL’s recent release of search engine data. I’m sure you also know that various other search engines such as Yahoo, Google, and MSN store their search data indefinitely. While one hopes that they take greater precautions than AOL did to protect their users, the simple fact is it’s still accessible via subpoena and search warrant, as well as system cracking, bribery, and other illegal attacks. I know none of this is your fault, of course. In fact, I suspect you’re as concerned about this as I am. However, I do need your help in your capacity as my ISP to do something about it.

I’ve taken reasonable measures through the use of Firefox plugins, cookie blocking, and other techniques to keep Google, Yahoo, MSN, Doubleclick and others from tracking and aggregating my browsing history and searches. Unfortunately, there’s still one way they can easily identify me: my IP address.

Because I run servers off my Speakeasy ADSL connection, I need a static IP address. However I only need that for the servers. There’s no reason my regular surfing has to use the same IP address I use for this site. At a minimum I need a separate and dynamic IP address for my client connections that changes at least once a day (preferably more often) to prevent easy aggregation of my searches and browsing history.

Even better, I would like a promise from Speakeasy that the record of the dynamic IPs assigned is automatically deleted after a reasonable period of time, say two weeks or a month. I know you need to hang onto this information for a little while to manage your network and troubleshoot problems, and that’s OK. I’d just like some assurance that it’s not stored indefinitely.

Best of all, I’d like a Speakeasy hosted anonymizing proxy service for your customers. Yes, I’ve tried the third party services like Anonymizer.com; and their performance just isn’t adequate. However, a Speakeasy hosted service could be a lot closer to me (as measured in network hops), support fewer users, and perform better. I’d even be willing to pay extra for such a service.

What do you think? How much of this can you give me today? How much can you give me tomorrow? Over the last few years, Speakeasy’s been a really interesting ISP that’s taken the lead in new arenas like VOIP and wireless access. I’d like to see you expand that vigor and imagination into protecting your users’ privacy as well.

Your customer,
Elliotte Rusty Harold

3 Responses to “Dynamic IPs and Anonymous Surfing: an Open Letter to my ISP”

  1. Laszlo Marai Says:


    Why don’t you use an anonymizer proxy? I use JAP (http://anon.inf.tu-dresden.de/index_en.html) for surfing certian web sites from inside our corporate network. You can configure firefox (or just about any browser) with a proxy configuration script to use the anonymous proxy when going to the search engines.

  2. Mokka mit Schlag » Changing Search Engines Says:

    […] I’ve become increasingly concerned about Google’s storing of search data. I use various cookie blockers, page rewriters, and other tools to limit the information Google gets about me. Nonetheless I still have a static IP address that’s only shared with a few other people; and if any company has the skill and talent to aggregate search requests to build profiles of people and invade their privacy, it’s Google. Consequently, I’m switching over Firefox to use a different search engine. I thought I’d start by trying generic.a9.com which promises not to track me. (The regular http://www.a9.com does track users.) here’s how: […]

  3. JAS Says:

    I would not trust an ISP. As long as information about you is stored on their systems national
    agencies can get it, or it may be leaked like at AOL.

    An Anonymizer is a good idea, however Anonymizer.com overslept the technological progress.
    Take a look at http://www.Anonymouse.org which is the state-of-the-art service today for anonymous
    internet-access. The speed is also good, I even received sometimes websites faster than without
    Anonymouse :-)


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