Anonymous Proxies 101

by: Thomas Pitts

If Google anonymous proxy, you will get well over thirteen million hits. Anonymous proxy sites allow you to enter your URL into the site, and it will then retrieve and display the page for you. This helps to protect you anonymity on the Internet, because the target site logging the visit records the information of the anonymous proxy site, not the end user. Why are there such a growing number of sites that provide this service? The answer is that various types of censorship exist to prevent access to many Internet resources.

Censorship is an often ill-abused buzz-word. We are subject to censorship our entire lives. It comes in many forms. There is Moral, Military, and Religious censorship. Clearly there is a need to withhold certain information under certain circumstances, such as in wartime, or any time its immediate dissemination will cause harm to others. While military secrets are often the most fleeting of all, timing is everything. It’s not really a matter of what you know about your enemy, but when you know it.

In recent events concerning European cartoonists, one can clearly see the role that censorship has taken. The depiction of an Islamic deity has led to widespread riots, deaths, and threats of further violence on a global scale. In an ironic twist, certain radical elements now seek to publish their own works, which would indicate that the Nazi Holocaust was a hoax. It is also important to note that in some countries, the media is state controlled, and many sites on the Internet are simply blocked, inhibiting the free flow of information

There is also corporate censorship in the form of Internet washers, which filter the types of websites that may be viewed at work, based on their content. There are several reasons for the application of this. Lost employee or student productivity, the introduction of viruses, and sexual harassment have all led to companies and schools to adopt some type of censoring product.

It is difficult to make an argument against such forms institutional censorship. I find that it makes my job more difficult. I am a server systems administrator at a major dot-com. While I have broad knowledge of a variety of systems, I don’t know everything. Nobody does! I rely on tech support forums and other sites with unique tools…that are almost all blocked. I find I must sometimes bypass systems that block benign sites.

While I am not necessarily an advocate of the use of anonymous proxies, they can serve a purpose in certain circumstances. Anonymous proxies will allow a user to bypass many restrictions and access information that would normally not be available to them. Others make use of proxies to access information while protecting their anonymity, and possibly their physical safety. However, there are some people familiar with this concept that use these systems to access questionable material from work or school. Remember: This type of behavior, can lead to expulsion, termination, or other types of punishment. Be safe on the Internet, stay informed of your school or employer’s policies, and use good judgment.