Posting to Autocat
There are various ways of maintaining anonymity with email and web browsing. I use the Thunderbird email client, and you can get a plug-in called OpenPGP. PGP stands for “Pretty good privacy” and is some of the best possibilities for anonymous messaging. The way this works is that your email is encrypted when you send it, and someone at the other end must be able to decrypt it to be able to read it. http://www.openpgp.org/
Apparently, it is extremely difficult to decrypt.
For hard drives or sections of hard drives that you want encrypt, there is TrueCrypt. http://www.pcworld.com/product/946425/truecrypt.html
For anonymous web browsing, there is the Tor project https://www.torproject.org/, which makes it almost impossible to track someone (supposedly). It is apparently becoming more and more popular.
Everything has dark and silver linings, and anonymity does as well. If you remain anonymous, the entire social web “or web2.0” is essentially missing for you. The vast majority of Google’s vaunted searching capability comes comparing your present search to what it has saved about you. Take that away and it becomes very stinky. Anonymous emailing is kind of a pain and can be done only with people who have the decryption capabilities. Tor is nice but very, very, VERY slow. Of course, if you forget your password or if something happens to you and your wife or partner needs to get into the drives, everybody is completely sunk. Anonymity takes time, effort and planning, and lots of people don’t care that much about it.
For those who are interested, one of the main voices for anonymity is Julian Assange (whether you love him or hate him). His recent book “Cypherpunks” is on precisely this topic. You can download his book here http://archive.org/details/cypherpunks_18_853 but it is based on a long discussion he had on his show on RT that took place in two parts. Here is part 1 https://assange.rt.com/cypherpunks-episode-eight-full-version-pt1/ The book is pretty much a transcript of the discussion, but he (or someone) has added lots of footnotes, which make the ebook very helpful.
My personal idea is that as the cost of software, hardware and networking come down, and as they get easier to use, more and more people will choose the option of creating their own webservers and storing on the cloud will not be as attractive as today. I can imagine people will be able to run an entire webserver, including email client, images, streaming video, their own “Facebook”-type page and everything else, running off of their cellphone.
It could almost be done today.
Yes, libraries have a tremendous role to play in the world of today, or in such a world of tomorrow–that is, if they want to. But I don’t know if libraries care that much either….