Do you know who I am?

If one were to search and read all of my posts (not that I am such great reading, by the way), one could draw a picture of my life through the personal details I have chosen to share with SDMB. Perhaps an enterprising person could put those facts together to determine my real-world identity. If one knew the name of my town, a person could use the info on the SDMB to go straight to my front door. However, such detective work is not what I mean.

Is there something specifically communicated through a post on this chat-board that could be traced to this very computer (and hence to me)? Is it possible for an average internet user (such as most of you) to determine my identity through a post on a chat-board such as SDMB? Via this post, can you determine my ISP, my general physical location, or my specific address?

Can the nice folks at Chicago Reader determine any of the above? (Yes, I know they could by using my credit card info, but that is outside of this post.)

If the government were interested in this post, could they find me? (Again, without using the credit card used to subscribe to this site.)

So, how anonymous are we, really?

And no, I’m not hiding. I’m just wondering about privacy issues such as these.

There isn’t much a fellow reader of this board could do to trace you. However, IP addresses are loosely tied to location and the administrators of this board could likely find out what town or city you are in. I have my own website and, like most of them, it logs IP addresses and I sometimes look them up.


Yes, with caveats. They can see your IP number, which can be pretty easily traced to your ISP and (usually) your general physical location. To ascertain your specific address, they’d have to go through your ISP, which usually doesn’t release such information, depending on local laws and so forth.

Also, it is not all that difficult to fool such tracing attempts. Simply connecting through a proxy server is enough unless the Chicago Reader really wants to find out who you are. In most cases, anyone doing the tracing will assume that the proxy is you.

Here, we need some legal knowledge. Depending on what government agency wanted to find you and why, the Chicago Reader could probably be compelled to give up the information.

If you’re asking if they could trace you without the Reader’s cooperation and without actually breaking into the Reader’s computers… dunno, but my guess is it’s possible with their resources.

He’s supplied an interesting email address.

Useing my super hacker bag 'o tricks, I quickly determined that your in central Texas :slight_smile:

Damn. Before you called his location to my attention, I was hoping he was Neil Peart.

From identity theft risk, we are all-but-fully secure for the reasons already stated. From Big Brother risk, we are all-but-fully exposed. If, for example, someone started making posts which suggested the poster might be a terrorist sympathizer and someone reported this to Homeland Security, they could have your particulars pretty easily, most obviously by serving a warrant on your ISP. IIRC, there’s a provision in the Patriot Act which precludes your ISP from advising you that the information has been requested, much less giving you an opportunity to prevents its turnover. Sleep tight, kids.

Noted, but there’s no guarrantee that I was telling the truth.

I feel stupid. I don’t even remember supplying that email address.

Some enterprising soul has already used that address to send me personal information beyond what is on the SDMB (or supplied to Chicago Reader). I guess that answers that. By the way, you’ve freaked out my wife. Knowledge has its price, I guess. No more emails, please.

The motive for this little experiment has to do with my daughter’s activity on the internet. Like so many teens, she’s into the social networking websites (I won’t say which one). I have tried to pursuade her that she is not as anonymous as she thinks she is. She hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary, or wildly inappropriate, but she needs to know that she can be found. Someone found me within a couple of hours.

Sorry to disappoint. Besides, isn’t it Peirt? I do play drums, but I’m hardly a god at them. When registering for SDMB, I tried several user names before this one. Naturally, it’s the stupid one that stuck. :smack:

So, in reality, the only way I was located was through my own error regarding the email address. There still was nothing intrinsic to the actualy post that can lead people to users. I understand that the website owner can log visiting IP addresses. Can that lead someone to my door? (I am NOT inviting anyone here to actually do so!!!) Shagnasty 's link says I’m in Plano, Texas. I am no where near Plano.

Changed the email address, by the way.

That was really stupid. Thanks for pointing out the obvious. :smack: :smack: :smack:

As an aside, if I called my ISP every Friday and asked if any warrants had been served relating to my account, would this law permit them to answer truthfully?

that’s actually a good question.

It’s Neil Peart, “Peert”.

That wasn’t me. I saw the info, but didn’t use it.
It’s hard to keep privacy. I expect that most dopers with 2000 or more posts have at some point revealed enough to pinpoint their location. Actual names are tougher, but many people use the same username at multiple sites. Searching on that name can thus bring up all sorts of information you may not even remember you’ve released.

At least in the USA, there are different warrants isued by different courts & agencies under different laws.

For some, the ISP would be legally permitted to tell you. Whether they would or not would be a matter of their internal policy.

For others, courtesy of the Patriot act, child pron hysteria, etc., they would be explicitly prohibited from telling you about them.

If I was running an ISP, I think I’d make it policy that we never tell the customer anything. That keeps us out of the middle & reduces the chance of us ever screwing up & revealing something we shouldn’t.

And in this insideous fashion, the forces of darkness recruit otherwise reasonable buinsessmen into being instruments of budding totalitarianism. Or part of the great security mantle protecting us all from Evil, depending on your politics.

You might want to add Your vs.You’re 1: An English-Zone.Com Quiz to your bag 'o tricks, but then again, you probably already know who I am and where I live, so I’d better shut up now :slight_smile:

Dunno what your ISP would say. Do know what banks say, and they’ve been subject to such a provision for a long time. The response is something along the lines of “Sorry, we are prohibited by law from answering that question. This doesn’t mean your records have been searched. In fact, I have not checked to see whether your records have been searched. It simply means we are prohibited by law from answering the question.” If you persist, you will be forwarded to the general counsel’s office, who will say the same thing, only using more words with more syllables. Met a GC once whose job this was. After getting off the phone, he’d check whether the records had been searched and, if they had, would advise the relevant authority of the inquiry.

You know, if the law let me, I’d just cancel the account any time I got served a warrant, just to save my company time and money, unless the Feds want to reimburse me for any and all expenses including a consult with my lawyer.
I’m thinking they thought of that, though.
“I’m sorry, Mr. King, we’ve decided to raise your dial-up price to $375/mo effective retroactively to last month…”

While other posters have given good information regarding this particular message board and general privacy, it would also benefit you to look at the particulars of the Web site(s) your daughter is using., for instance, is highly tied to a specific [del]educational institution[/del] college, high school, “region” or workplace. With the exception of the “region” networks, each of these requires an affiliated email address to join (thus your daughter couldn’t join the University of Michigan facebook unless she had access to an email address from the University of Michigan).

Once a person is a member of a network, she can generally add friends from any network and anyone can add her as a friend. This can be adjusted in the privacy settings to allow only friends from the same network. These friends and networks form the basis of Facebook’s privacy settings.

First and most basic, you can control who can see your profile. The broadest selection is that everyone in your network (and your friends) can see your profile. This means that no one from outside your network can see your profile (except people you have added as friends), and you can’t change that setting. You can tighten that down so that only “friends of friends” can see your profile, and even further so that only friends can see it. You can also narrow it down by types of people, only allowing people identifying themselves as undergrads, grad students, alumni, faculty and/or staff of your institution can see you.

It is important to note that your name will deliver results showing the fact you have a facebook account, the network it’s listed under and a default photo, even if you restrict who can view the profile itself.

From here, there are tons of privacy settings. You can set who sees almost any aspect of your profile to “entire network,” “friends of friends,” or “just friends,” you can set who can see some aspects to the above options plus “no one from my network,” (i.e. friends who are in other networks), or “no one at all.” You can block specific people from seeing your profile. You can set up a “limited profile” which allows certain named people to only see parts of your profile (they don’t know they can only see some of the information). If someone has “tagged” a photo with your name (identifying you and linking to your profile), you can unilaterally break that link.

The advantage of this complicated web of settings is that you can share some pretty private information with folks who you want to have access to it (I like that the people I work with at my school job can find my cellphone number on facebook if they need to get ahold of me), but you can keep others from having that information (ex-girlfriends).

The disadvantage: You have to USE the features. They don’t do any good if your default is “let everyone see everything.” I know less about, but it seems to be more open and more profiles and blogs seem to be viewable without logging in.