Can I really be anonymous on the Internet?

Anonymity is defined as „staying unknown“ or „not being recognized“. You are not „anonymous“ when you are online, even if you use privacy tools like TOR, Bitcoin or VPN services.

Each service has at least one piece of information that might point to you or distinguish you from other users. No matter if it is the IP address (VPN and TOR) or the address of your wallet for Bitcoin. This information alone does not reveal any details about you as a user, but this data can be merged with other data and thus your identity can be clearly recognized.

  • Some publications have also correctly recognized that neither Tor nor Bitcoin let you be „anonymous.
  • Even a VPN service does not directly make you „anonymous“, but it can still considerably increase your privacy and security on the Internet.
  • Therefore, privacy is a much more realistic goal to achieve than real anonymity.
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Privacy is a personal idea of each individual and has different meanings for different people. But in general it means that people can decide for themselves which activities they want to share with others or not. Therefore, „privacy“ can also mean that you can express yourself and express your opinion, even if you do not want this to be directly attributable to you.

What does a „good“ VPN provider do?

It does not advertise with „anonymity“ or so that it does not store any log files securely. A transparent presentation that also gives you the security that the company takes care of your privacy and that you can trust is more important than untenable promises.

Anonymity and privacy are not the same

Services that promise to make you „anonymous“ and at the same time value all data that can lead to you to eliminate create too high expectations. As you can see in „Myth #1“, it is simply not possible to maintain 100% anonymity. However, services that actively protect your privacy instead of just not storing any data will be much more successful.

Internet users can use „private browsers“, proxies, TOR, send encrypted messages, use VPN’s or other great tools to increase your privacy. But it is never possible simply to leave no traces that could lead to you. It is possible to avoid mass monitoring by governments or companies that want to collect your data, but none of the tools that will serve this purpose and no combination of different applications can actually make you „anonymous“. Privacy is an achievable goal, but „anonymity“ is just a false promise.

What does a „good“ VPN provider do?

VPN services that use their own DNS servers and carry out the transmission of data via highly developed and also cleanly implemented encryption types can protect you specifically against mass monitoring and also targeted attacks on your data. But they do not promise „guaranteed anonymity“.