What’s the Difference: Anonymity vs. Pseudonymity
Think about all of your accounts, files, emails, websites you visit, and so on, and ask yourself: Which of these do I consider the most confidential?
What can’t you afford to lose? What is irreplaceable? What can cause you the most harm? What can hit your reputation?
Examples of such things can be photos, credit card data, bank account data, personal data that allows someone to establish your identity, data about accounts associated with LinkedIn, Facebook, Amazon, PayPal, WebMoney, your main email address, etc.
What is personal data, and how can you protect it from the threats? Find out the answer.
However, there is one thing that you can value, it’s anonymity. You probably want your emails, messages, payments, etc., to remain anonymous, and your identity to stay a secret. But what’s the difference between anonymity vs pseudonymity?
Let’s find out.
What is anonymity?
Anonymity is understood as the technical impossibility of linking actions performed on internet resources with the person performing these actions.
Anonymity is when no one knows who you are but potentially sees what you are doing. Anonymity separates your actions and activities from your real identity.
You may want anonymity to view content, not to produce it. There are different situations. Anonymity means that it will be impossible to associate your actions with you. You will be without a name and a face.
For example, you access the internet using an anonymization service like Tor and leave a message about women’s rights under an anonymous pseudonym. Therefore, your identification data remains anonymous and separate from your real identity. However, your message has been received, and it is not private. That’s what is called anonymity.
If you access a website using a virtual private VPN, you are potentially anonymous on that site, but the message will not be confidential if you leave it on the public forum.
Depriving a person of anonymity, i.e. establishing a connection between actions on internet resources and a specific person, is called deanonymization.
Why is anonymity important to you? Read more here.
What is pseudonymity?
In addition to anonymity, there is such a thing as pseudonymity. It refers to actions on the internet on behalf of a fictional character whose name is usually not directly related to the real person.
Pseudonymity is often used on the internet to perform “everyday” tasks such as participating in thematic forums on professional topics or hobbies, playing online games, maintaining a profile on social networks unknown to one’s employer (or one’s “other half”), visiting dating sites, and so on.
In general, pseudonymity is well suited for actions that do not conflict with the interests of the authorities or other “serious people” – big business or criminal elements (the difference between which is not always clear). If this condition is violated, then pseudonymity becomes an insufficient barrier, and it is necessary to resort to anonymity.
What’s the difference between anonymity and pseudonymity?
Often these two concepts are used interchangeably, but it is important to understand the difference, because various technologies provide privacy at the expense of anonymity and pseudonymity.
Anonymity can be used in two ways – in its original form, and together with pseudonymity.
Anonymity in its original form implies actions on the internet without creating any permanent accounts (on forums, social networks, etc.). For example, you can read the materials you are interested in without registering, or write anonymous comments, or you can register a one-time account to write a single comment.
Of course, this is often not enough, for example to maintain a blog or website, or to post on social networks, so you have to create a permanent pseudonymous account. In this case, you want to preserve your reputation, not completely hide your identity. A common example is to have 10 aliases for social networks.
However, constantly acting on behalf of an anonymous account is also bad, because the more you use it, the more its behavior becomes similar to the behavior of your non-anonymous “household” accounts – and the easier it is to link them together and thereby deanonymize you.
How to be anonymous on the net? Learn more here.
Anonymity and the law
People interested in anonymity on the internet often have a question: How legitimate is it to use the technology and software tools that provide anonymity? After all, we often hear from high-ranking officials or business people the opinion that anonymity is harmful or even illegal.
Despite this, anonymity on the internet remains legal for the time being. Furthermore, as of writing this article, we do not know of any country whose authorities would prohibit anonymity itself.
If we approach the issue from a legal standpoint, then we can safely say that the means of ensuring anonymity help to realize the legitimate rights and freedoms of citizens to privacy and anonymous correspondence are legal.
On the topic of how anonymous work on the internet, you can find a lot of material. Unfortunately, not all articles about anonymity are equally useful – often it’s quite the opposite.
Below is a far from complete list of the most popular misconceptions that can be found on the internet, from ordinary users’ comments to sites positioning themselves as resources for information security and network anonymity.
- Use public Wi-Fi – including the access point of a neighbor whose password you have learned or can work out (which, by the way, is illegal), Wi-Fi at work, and of course “free Wi-Fi” in public places, access to which is provided by authorization via SMS.
- Purchase a VPN. There are several reasons to avoid using VPN services, starting from the fact that the payment process itself already significantly deanonymizes you and ending with the closeness of technology and negligent attitude to security of many VPN services.
- DNS change. Especially the change to Google servers (such as 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11). Never do this if you do not thoroughly understand what you are doing and are not sure of the consequences of your actions.
If you want to remain anonymous all the time and not think about how to maintain this anonymity or pseudonymity, then the best option would be to use the Utopia P2P anonymous ecosystem. It is a decentralized, closed, and completely private ecosystem that ensures the internet’s security and versatility.
Utopia P2P does not request real data when registering, so all users remain anonymous. In addition, data transmitted through the ecosystem is not stored on a single server with developer access. In Utopia, a single server is created for each participant, which only they have access to.
It combines separate tools for messaging, browsing, and even mining in one incredibly user-friendly product. In addition, you can send confidential documents using the built-in email. All messages are encrypted and stored on individual user servers. A user’s online activity in the ecosystem takes place in incognito mode and without tracking IP addresses. You can create anonymous sites within Utopia, all visitors and readers of which will also be anonymous.
Simply put, the Utopia P2P ecosystem is created for the complete anonymity and security of each user. Utopia is a product aimed at the global market. The ecosystem can be used almost anywhere in the world where there is a stable internet connection. The ecosystem is a free platform, devoid of censorship and online surveillance, where everyone can use a nickname instead of their real name.
Read more about the ecosystem here.