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 otherwise 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.
- Many would advise against disclosing your age; most agree that exact birth dates should not be given, which would also mean you should for instance not post about today being your birthday, while some also advice against giving your age away. For instance, instead of saying you are 21 years old, 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 it is you who asks.
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, however, try to disclose information only on a need-to-know basis. Remember that in most cases, you cannot know the true motivation of the person on the other end, and some vigilantes may be very patient. Both parties should respect each other's anonymity and not expect any disclosure beyond need.
Technology can be some help in retaining anonymity, but it is important to understand that technology alone cannot help if you do not observe the social aspects discussed above. Once these are in place, you can begin to evaluate the technology side of anonymity.
You should never use your real life e-mail address in boylove contexts, 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 and find that person's post in other forums or sites and follow the dots. There are numerous free mail offerings available, but they will give away your IP address to any repressive government, if you care about privacy when signing up for a new email address use a proxy, when you send an email your real computer IP is attached to the email header, if you use a proxy when sending email it will be proxy showing up instead of your real IP. There are a few email services focused on email privacy but they are not free to use, some of those services are AnonymousSpeech.com, Countermail.com and Hushmail.com
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 PGP or GNU Privacy Guard to encrypt your e-mail in transit and protect against forgery. You can also look into the anonymous remailer systems called Mixmaster and Mixminion. These offer very good anonymity (effectively making it impossible to trace the e-mails you send back to you), but it needs some learning curve, another problem is that messages sent through remailers often end up in the spam folder because of the way they were sent, using relays and hiding your IP, a third problem is that to avoid time based attacks remailers do not send emails automatically, they hold it for some time, it can take a few days or hours for the email to be delivered.
The easiest way to send anonymous email text messages to an inbox or Usenet group, is by using the German Privacy Foundation web based remailer, it can be accessed with tor, as i2p site or less securely through the Internet.
Tor, "The onion router," is a free software product sponsored by Electronic Frontier Foundation. Tor acts as a proxy running on your computer. You can connect to this proxy with many kinds of networking applications to make your communications very hard to trace back to you.
Tor is very useful in combination with IRC chat clients such as mIRC or X-chat. IRC has traditionally been problematic with regards to anonymity because any other IRC user can see which IP address you connect from. When connecting through Tor, you are assigned one of several hundred Tor IP addresses at random, hiding your actual address. You can now chat without worrying about your anonymity.
Another useful application of Tor is web browsing. Tor allows you to browse sensitive web content without those who run the servers being able to find your IP address. Some web sites may have blocked requests from Tor (especially for posting) because of abuse, but many allow it, often specifically to allow anonymous use.
You can use any web browser in combination with Tor.
As the Tor developers still have not released a "final" version, Tor may still contain critical bugs. You should always make sure that you have the latest version installed. It can be retrieved from the Tor homepage.