Anonymity is the state of not being identifiable. The possibility of being anonymous is often considered a cornerstone of democracy, since without it there is the possibility that nobody will dare to give opposing views, or to vote differently from the majority.
For boylovers, anonymity is often considered extra important, as vigilantes and hostile and violent child advocates watch the online discussion boards routinely, attempting to discern enough information about each participant to be able to attain identifiable information. Such information may then be used to out the boylover to his local community, to plant false rumours about him, or even physically attack or harass him.
Social aspects of anonymity
For boylovers, protecting anonymity is mainly about being careful of what personal information to disclose when communicating with fellow boylovers.
- On public discussion boards or chat rooms, you should never give out your real name or initials, but instead use a pseudonym which you do not use in other contexts.
- Do not disclose personal telephone numbers or your street address.
- Depending on the size of the country or city you live in, you should also be careful in disclosing them.
- Do not disclose your age; exact birth dates should never be given, which also means that you should not post about today being your birthday. One privacy advice is that instead of saying you are 21 years old, you say you are in your early twenties.
- It may in some cases be necessary to ask for help in such a way that the question would give away information you would not otherwise have given. In such cases, many boards allow you to use a temporary "throw-away" pseudonym such that nobody knows who is asking.
When communicating with other boylovers privately, e.g. over E-mail, good judgement is needed to decide how much more information to disclose. One should only disclose information on a need-to-know basis. Remember that you cannot know or trust the true motivation of the person on the other end, and some vigilantes trying to find out your real identity or incite you admit or commit an illegal action are very patient. Both parties should respect each other's anonymity and not expect any disclosure beyond need. Bear in mind at all times that not only you don´t know who you are talking to, but also that the other person might one day have his computer stolen and the chat logs might be found by whoever gains access to that computer.
Technology can help you to retain anonymity, but it is important to understand what you are doing, read and learn about technology and observe the social aspects discussed above.
You should never use your real life e-mail address in boylove contexts, like forums, as this will make you very easy to identify, the most common trick used to locate people consists in entering an email address or nick in a search engine, find that person's post in other forums or sites and follow the dots.
There are numerous free mail offerings available, but the major providers scan your emails, they will give away your IP address to any repressive government and even have a NSA backdoor. If you care about privacy when signing up for a new email address use a VPN, when you send an email your real computer IP is attached to the email header, if you use a VPN when sending email it will be VPN IP server displayed instead of your real IP, or you can sign up with an email service focused on privacy like Protonmail or Tutanota.
The best privacy is the one that depends on you and not others, if you are comfortable with computers and software, look into setting up OpenPGP to encrypt your e-mail in transit and protect against forgery. You can also look into anonymous e-mail providers hosted on Tor. These tools offer very good anonymity, effectively making it impossible to trace the e-mails you send back to you, but they have a steep learning curve, another problem is that messages sent through an anonymous IP often end up in the spam folder.
Tor, The Onion Router is a program sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that will hide your real IP. You can connect to this proxy with many kinds of networking applications to make your communications extremely hard to trace back to you. Tor it is most often used to browse the Internet anonymously but it can also be used to route instant messaging traffic.
Tor can be configured in combination with IRC chat clients such as X-Chat or with Jabber instant messenger clients such as Pidgin. Instant Messaging has traditionally been problematic with regards to anonymity because it relies on a central server that logs your real IP, sometimes visible to other users and others times only visible to the server administrator, it will depend on the network.
When connecting through Tor, you are assigned one of several hundred Tor IP addresses at random, hiding your actual address, unfortunately due to abuse and spam Tor proxies are banned in all major IRC networks and some XMPP servers. To use a chat client or instant messenger with Tor it will have to be manually configured unless you run Tails, which is already set up to use Pidgin through Tor.
Another useful application of Tor is web browsing, Tor allows you to browse web content without those who run the server being able to find your real IP address. Some web sites may have blocked requests from Tor, especially for posting, because of abuse, but others like BoyChat allow it, often specifically to allow anonymous use. Bandwidth intensive applications like video streaming or complex websites with lots of graphics can load slow with Tor because in order to make your IP untraceable the network must route traffic through various hoops in different countries and this increases ping rates and slows down the speed at which data is transmitted, it is not recommended that you use Tor to stream long movies but it might work fine for short video clips, speed also depends on the number of Tor servers available and the number of users at the time.
Smartphones and tablets can be configured to browse the Internet with Tor, if you search the marketplace for Tor you will find various browsers to do this but they are not officially supported by the Tor project, the only smartphone app developed by the Tor project is called Orbot. Always remember that if you lose your smartphone or anybody gets access to it they can find out what websites you have been looking at, encrypt your phone and make sure that nobody gets unauthorised access while switched on.
Another necessary security precaution is to always update the software and only run the latest version of Tor, old versions can contain security holes. The safest option is to run Tails, an operating system that routes all data through Tor and blocks any outgoing network connection with your real IP.
- Tor Project - Tor project and browser
- Tails - Linux distribution routing everything through tor. It can run as live DVD
- Proton - Privacy email and VPN provider in Switzerland, free option available.