Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anonymous Tip Exposes Perverted Babysitter

Brandon Alexander Rankins
An El Paso County man babysitting children was arrested on the possible likelihood of sexually assaulting several young children, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. They stated that law enforcement began investigating the accused offender after an anonymous message was posted in an on-line Army wives forum. Court records verified that the man is the son of an active duty soldier. The Gazette also reported that the children, all less the 10 years old, described how the alleged offender coerced them into sex acts. The man has been set free on a $10,000 bond and is due for a a court appearance on April 8. He is facing 25 felony counts in the alleged abuse, which authorities believe started last July.

Unfortunately, these acts of perversion are a daily occurrence in our country and around the world. Many of these acts of abuse ever see the light of day. Thankfully, there were some socially and morally responsible people willing to reach out to authorities to intervene in the case in El Paso. Most of the time, people who may actually suspect abuse or criminal activity will fail to do anything because they fear that they are somehow going to get dragged into it.

The pending investigation of this likely abuser will now be possible because of an anonymous message. Being able to send an anonymous message is an important tool in the fight against abuse, crime and corruption.

If you would like to read more about this story from its original source please click here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Anonymous Social Networking - Formspring, Tumblr and Ask taking more heat

There continues to be a steady and consistent effort to make parents and teens aware of the dangers they could encounter while on-line. However, it seems that there is less and less emphasis being put on the predatory (stranger-danger) aspect of social networking and more emphasis on cyber-bullying and anonymous commenting. There has been an intensified effort not just in the U.S. but globally to quell the increasing popularity of anonymous forums where users can leave anonymous comments. These forums often contain statements that are cruel and hurtful and sometimes directed at a specific individual. This form of bullying is being portrayed as something "different" than schoolyard bullying because the audience is so much greater and the impact more severe.

Silent Sender has addressed the issues of cyber-bullying and has suggested that the root of bullying is in the home and school, not in cyberspace. The fact that anonymous venues exist for teens to vent or express themselves isn't in itself the problem. Teens and young adults have to sort through very complex social issues and the internet has become the place to do it. Emotional conflict and low self-esteem are not a byproduct of being jealous that a friend on Facebook has 1000+ friends and they only have 25 but more likely a natural and normal process of emotional development. A new study suggests that Facebook may actually "cause" depression amongst emotionally vulnerable users because they may perceive a lack of on-line contacts as a failure on their part (or, believe that nobody likes them). The same doctors also admit that social networking sites may not "cause" new occurrences of depression but may be an extension of an ongoing depressive state. More about the Facebook story can be found here.

There is no doubt that social networking sites create an opportunity for abuse. Even non-anonymous forums still allow anonymity because anyone can create a fake email address and setup an account with false credentials. Demonizing social networking sites and "Question" forums because they encourage cyber-bullying is a big reach. Doing away with such sites will just open up new opportunities for teens to socialize in other digital venues that let them express themselves- and the potential for abuse will still exist.

Anonymous messaging and the ability to send an anonymous email and socialize anonymously are important and valuable aspect of the on-line experience.

In the following weeks, Silent Sender will be conducting a survey of users from these sites to fairly gauge the opinions of those users in order to identify the usefulness of anonymous social networking sites and forums. Some preliminary research has already been conducted and initial results are quite surprising. Check back often to find out what we learn.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Friday, March 25, 2011

iShareGossip Anonymous Gossip Website Targeted

The German Family Minister has cyber-bullying in his cross hairs and it's looking like on-line gossip website iShareGossip is in the line of fire. Several weeks back we reported on the increasingly critical attacks of social networking websites with that have an anonymous forum or venue for their users. Formspring has fallen under the critical eyes of parents who fear the website is a haven for sex offenders and on-line predators. Germany is declaring that they are going to take a hard-line stance against cyber-bullying and websites that facilitate it.

The announcement from Germany's Family Minister followed just days after a highly-publicized incident where a 17-year-old in Berlin was beaten-up as an online dispute turned into real-world violence. The victim had apparently tried to confront the boyfriends of a group of girls who had been insulting his girlfriend on the website 'iShareGossip.' As a result of the incident, Family Minister Schröder said she has requested the government youth media watchdog to consider monitoring the site and indexing it. This would effectively make it inaccessible to German search engines. However, it would not prevent direct traffic or traffic via a proxy server from reaching the site.

Schröder told the Wiesbadener Kurier, "No one needs to try to make this into a debate about censorship, here are young people viciously insulting one another and dragging the reputations of others - particularly young girls - through the dirt under the cloak of anonymity."

But this is about censorship. Keeping young people from expressing themselves (whether hurtful or not) and blacklisting websites only makes it more attractive. Demeaning on-line speech that contains hurtful or harmful comments posted about someone on-line will never go away, regardless of being posted anonymously or not. There is no doubt that cyber-bullying is wrong and should be curtailed. But getting back to the basics is where the answers can be found.

Just like real-world bullying, teaching teens conflict resolution and how to be self-confident negates the effects of hurtful or demeaning comments, whether in real life or on-line. This is the nature of adolescence. What happened to "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me?" Have we become that overly sensitive about our own self-images; so emotionally defenseless that we allow words to hurt us? Granted- teens are particularly sensitive at this stage of emotional development. However, even a teen has enough emotional and intellectual capacity to "know" how to handle being a victim of bullying. Also, parents and schools can embed more lessons on the ethical dilemmas of on-line activities in their own parenting style and school lesson plans.

You cannot expect an adult, even a government official such as the "Family Minister", to step into the shoes of a teen and understand the world of social networking in the eyes of a teen. And teens don't understand the ramification of their actions or the power of anonymity. Silent Sender would suggest that the preservation of anonymity and freedom of speech should always prevail, while efforts to correct abhorrent behavior such as any form of bullying be handled by the parents of those teens. We do not need any government using this as a precedent for limiting on-line speech. It only creates resentment and ultimately can lead to civil dissidence. In the meantime, there are "adjustments" that these websites can make to monitor comments for potentially harmful or abusive language without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Anonymous messaging and anonymous email are important tools. Websites that offer freedom of speech though anonymity are no less important then being able to send an anonymous "letter to the editor" of a newspaper. We can all do a better job at curtailing the abusive side of anonymity by thinking before we "click."

If you would like to know more about this story from its original source please click here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rat Poison Hamburgers Exposed By Anonymous Tip

How would you like it if you recently discovered that your hamburger dutifully prepared in the kitchen of an Annapolis Maryland Fuddruckers had been sitting in preparation for consumption on a tray full of rat poison? You would probably be pretty disturbed and grossed out.

An anonymous tip led the local health department to conduct a surprise inspection of the establishment revealing trays of raw hamburger meat in a walk-in freezer peppered with rat poison pellets.The restaurant was ordered immediately closed and workers disposed of the tainted and exposed meat. After the tipster's report, the investigator assured that the rat pellets were discovered quickly. "It was in the refrigerator area, so it was not difficult for the inspectors to find," she said.

I am not sure what it more worrisome- potential exposure to rat poison, or the knowledge that someone believed the rat infestation at that location was bad enough to place the poison in such close proximity to the food. Or, even worse- did someone intentionally intend on poisoning the food.

Silent Sender applauds the anonymous tipster who came forward with this potentially life saving information.The ability to provide anonymous tips through anonymous messaging or whatever means continues to demonstrate that anonymity is critical to preventing crime or alerting the general public to a potentially dangerous situation.

If you would like to learn more about this story from its original source please click here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Anonymous tip to the IRS pays of to the tune of $1.1 million

Who says you can't make money on Wall Street anymore? Apparently there isn't a shortage of insider information either. An anonymous Wall Street banker just hit pay-dirt when his investment in going anonymous paid gains of  $1.1 million for reporting a massive tax fraud by Enron, Bankers Trust and others. The anonymous tip first came to the attention of attorney Erika A. Kelton of Phillips and Cohen back in 1999. The reward  is one of the first rewards issued by a five-year old Whistleblower Office at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Kelton's anonymous client will be handsomely rewarded for her key role in exposing corporate corruption.

Monetizing and rewarding anonymous tipsters clearly pays off, not just for the IRS, but for society as a whole. Financial incentives should be used whenever possible to compel people to come forward with information that will expose corruption. The ability to send an anonymous email or message has never been more important. Providing financial rewards is great, but people also need to feel safe and secure when going out on a limb with potentially explosive information. Silent Sender salutes the anonymous tipster for their brave actions.

If you would like to learn more about this story from its original source please click here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Formspring Social Networking Site Falls Under Critical Eyes Of Parents

A popular social networking website favored by teens is under fire by parents for its "anonymous" components. Launched in late 2009, the site has gained in popularity primarily because it offers the user the ability to ask all kinds of questions within the community without providing their identities. Opponents of the social networking site are referring to it as a breeding ground for predators and bullies.

The hook for teenagers is that Formspring is geared at getting to know your friends by asking questions anonymously. However, some people feel it is creating a venue for hurtful or perhaps harmful language. Frankly- it is the opinion of Silent Sender that teens likely already use a myriad of websites to accomplish the same thing, such as Yahoo! Answers, Wiki Answers and Askville, where anyone can post an anonymous question in a public forum. The threat of cyber-bullying does not originate from within the social networking medium- it begins with "how" our children are raised and parented. If kids aren't taught personal responsibility and accountability- they often act without considering the outcome

"A lot of parents just don't know it even exists," says SecureState Senior Security Consultant Tom Eston. "It is really up to the parent to get involved in their kids' lives and just communicate with them on a basic level and I think the kids will open up," admits Eston.

The ability to ask for information or gather information on-line while remaining anonymous is a fundamental right, especially if the questions are embarrassing. The adult equivent might be a forum helping men with erectile dysfunction. One might argue that sex addicts or worse may be trolling the forum. However, in cases where this power is being abused there should be some kind of effort to educate those who take advantage of anonymity to hurt others. Teenagers are teenagers and many make poor decisions in real life and on-line. The ability to send an anonymous message should require some thought before anyone clicks "send." A good reminder that stupid actions have consequences begins with good parenting. Talk to your kids about the ramifications of making poorly thought out choices while on-line or in the real world.

If you would like to learn more about this story from its original source please click here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Textual" Harassment Case Over Anonymous Text Claiming Infidelity

A Naples Florida couple recently filed a defamation lawsuit against an unknown entity for sending a text message claiming that one of the spouses were having an affair with an employ. The whole incident was made worse by the fact that the husband and wife were celebrating the wife's 45th birthday when the text message arrived on the wife's cell phone. The text message came in anonymously and they did not recognize the phone number. They hired an attorney to get to the bottom of the anonymous message. The lawsuit allows the attorney to start serving subpoenas to trace the origin of the message.

The couple's lawsuit, filed in Collier Circuit Court, alleges the anonymous texter knew the text message was made-up and defamatory, creating severe emotional stress for the couple. The lawsuit, assigned to Circuit Judge, seeks damages of $15,000 or more.

Harassment and defamatory comments are on the rise in electronic mediums such as the internet, SMS texting, blogs and social networking sites. So are requests for subpeonas to sequester information that would reveal the identites of anonymous commenters, e-mailers and texters. Thirty-seven states, including Florida, have passed cyberharassment laws. Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington focus on texting in addition to e-mails, blogs, the Internet and other forms of electronic communication, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Silent Sender has always expressed the important of "thinking before you click". If you want to send an anonymous message you better make sure you are not abusing the power of anonymity for nefarious purposes. Unfortunately, valuable tools like anonymous email can be used for "good" and "bad". With great power comes great responsibility.

If you would like to learn more about this story from its original source please click here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Corporate America Takes A Second Look At "Whistleblowing"

Regulators and corporate compliance offices are re-examining practices surrounding anonymous tips involving corporate corruption. There have been some recent cases where anonymous tips resulted in allegations, but without evidence, the tips became hearsay.

The saga regarding the French automotive maker Renault began last August, when a group of Renault managers passed on an anonymous tip accusing a senior Renault official of negotiating a bribe.

Four months later, Renault in January 2011 dismissed the executive and two other managers. The employees proclaimed their innocence, but the company's chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, stated publicly that the company had evidence against them. But, over the past two months, Renault and its lawyers have failed to produce any evidence against the trio.

Renault is now admitting that they may have been "tricked" into making the allegations and the company is preparing  to reinstate the three managers for lack of evidence.

While anonymous tips are important and vital to exposing corruption- a tip is just a tip unless it leads investigators to damaging evidence against the accused. An anonymous tip should always include some kind of evidence for the allegation(s) being made or the tip may not be taken seriously. Corporate America  typically responds to anonymous tips of corruption with a knee-jerk reaction, shoot and ask questions later. Allegations are really only "gossip" unless they include information or identify where information can be found pertaining to the allegations.

Anonymous messaging and the use of anonymous email to expose corporate corruption or any crime is an important tool to bring criminals to justice.

If you would like to learn more about this story from its original source please click here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The 10 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make On-line

1. I am anonymous while on-line 

Nope- Just because you can't be seen doesn't mean you can't be found

I saved this little goodie for last because it is near and dear to my heart. People foolishly believe that they are effectively anonymous while on-line. This false sense of security if just that, false.
Read more about how anonymous messaging can help keep you out of trouble by clicking here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Anonymous emails no longer anonymous?

Individuals who endeavor to remain anonymous when they send information over the web using different anonymous email and anonymous messaging services use these services to ensure the information they share with others cannot be traced back to them. There are equally good and bad uses for sending anonymous emails. Most people use anonymous email and anonymous messaging for legitimate and legal purpose. However- like any method of communication, whether it be smoke signals, secret decoder rings or a simple anonymous letter sent through the mail; there are always individuals that will use anonymity for nefarious purposes. It is critically important to keep this in perspective, since anonymity is a component of right to freedom of speech.

Researchers from Concordia University in Montreal claim they have devised a method to determine the authorship of anonymous emails. The technique utilizes data mining routines as well as syntax comparison modeling to identity patterns in speech and grammatical syntax to match the content of a message to a message of a "known" sender. In essence- this is a form of digital profiling that looks for patterns in writing (similar to techniques used in criminal forensics) between multiple emails to reveal consistencies (or inconsistencies) that would otherwise be undetectable by just examining a small pool of emails.

The purpose of the study is to combat the rapid increase in cybercrime. Identity theft is a primary consumer complaint of 2010 and is frequently committed by sending malware via anonymous emails.  Law enforcement officials typically use IP addresses to locate the residence where the email originated. However, IP addresses can come from a closed network where one outgoing IP address services several internal sub-addresses (ie: a hotel or internet hot spot). So- the only way to determine the author of an anonymous email is to identify the patterns found in emails written by the subject. This generates a unique or distinctive digital fingerprint.

So- is the end of anonymous messaging or anonymous email? Absolutely not. I would propose this simple solution. There are article writing tools that a lot of content copywriters and SEO professionals use every day to "spin" articles for SEO purposes. The way this works is you write some content (perhaps a blog or article) but then assign variables to the structure and syntax of the content. You provide replacement words and phrase that are randomly replaced each time you "spin" the article. With enough variables (or variants of a given word, phrase or sentence) an endless number or spun content could be generated. A similar process could be employed with the content of emails (kind of like money laundering for content)  the end result would be a randomly generated varriant of the original email. Removing any writing style or personal traits that might reflect the senders writing style. So- nice try... but  these researches just blew a ton of money on a process that is easily circumvented by a little creative thinking. People using anonymous messaging for legal purposes probably wouldn't even care about the profiling measures since they aren't engaging in illegal activities. But if the SPAMMERS and identity thieves are going to continue to use anonymous emails to conduct their illegal activities, they will certainly come up with creative "work-arounds" much more ingenious then the simple "fix" demonstrated above. A final issue to consider is that most cyber-crime activities originate from networks outside the U.S. and the jurisdiction of the U.S. criminal justice system. Therefor, if they actually identify an anonymous sender engaged in criminal activity; contending with jurisdiction and international law would present a significant hurdle, especially in countries such as Russia and their ex-Soviet satellites where a great deal of cyber-crime and criminal internet activity originates.

Therefore, if you are concerned about some furturistic server profiling your emails (anonymous or not) and trying to identify your wrtiing patterns, have no fear- once you run the content of your message though a spining program or similar content re-writer, the essence of the information will remain intact, but any pattern in writing style will be diffused and become generalized and no-longer unique.

Silent Sender is on the forefront of protecting your identity and your right to anonymity and freedom of speech through the use on anonymous messaging.

If you would like to learn more about this story from its original source please click here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Anonymous Jury For Trial In Chicago Granted By State And Federal Courts

Could anonymous juries be the next greatest thing in the world of anonymity? Maybe. In Chicago, federal prosecutors are asking for an anonymous jury in the pending trial of an accused terrorist, for the security of the jurors. Also, remember the Blagojevich case? The judge presiding over the former Illinois Governor's trial has proclaimed that the identities of the jurors in the retrial will indeed remain anonymous until the following morning after the proceedings. Once again, the intent is to protect the jurors from harm or harassment. This precedent for anonymous juries opens the door to greater protections for all citizens.

It is well known that the media does not favor anonymous juries. They contend that this information should be in the public domain, and that jurors should be held more accountable when their identities are known. But really, what should they be held accountable for? The jury selection process and veil of secrecy surrounding juries during trials have always been a media focal point. Jurors participating in proceedings involving networks of sympathizers (such as terrorist and organized crime) should always be permitted to remain anonymous until the proceedings have been completed.

One argument against anonymous juries is that it gets in the way of the jury interviewing/selection process. If they answer selection questionnaires anonymously, some would argue it creates disparities and jurors can answer the questions dishonestly. But this argument goes both ways since jurors could respond more honestly (because their identities are protected).

Either way, this is good for citizens that have to participate in controversial trials where they may be in danger of intimidation or retribution. The ability to remain anonymous by sending an anonymous message or conveying information anonymously is critical to the safety of all people.

If you would like to learn more about this story from its original source please click here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Anonymous tip and a cigarette butt leads to capture of "East Coast Rapist" Suspect

Aaron Thomas
Aaron Thomas, 39 - an accused rapist with DNA evidence connecting him to at least 12 victims of sexual assault and rape is on suicide watch after he tried to hang himself in his jail cell one day after being arrested. Mr. Thomas is no worse for wear after the attempt and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. He was given a clean bill of health but is being closely observed in case he attempts to take his life a second time.

The breakthrough that ultimately led to the arrest of Thomas came to Virginia police in the form of an Anonymous tip. While under surveillance, investigators tested a discarded cigarette they had observed him smoking and had the DNA cross-referenced with the DNA from the 12 victims from Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The assaults spanned a period of twelve years between 1997 and 2009. Thomas was quickly arrested when genetic material (DNA) matched DNA preserved from the earlier cases. He was taken into custody on Friday.

A spokesperson for the Prince William County police department, informed members of the media that the combined work of a recently formed multiagency task force and an anonymous tip helped spur the investigation and lead to the arrest of Thomas.

Thankfully, citizens still have faith in anonymity. As long as the ability to provide an anonymous tip via anonymous messaging or any system that protects the identity of the informant remains available- monsters like Thomas will ultimately face the criminal justice system. As they say... "someone always knows something" ... and by not getting actively involved, the tipster effectively made the apprehension of Thomas possible. Chalk one up for anonymity.

If you would like to read more about this story from its original source please click here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Failed Anonymous Letter Experiment "Failure" or Failed Test of Anonymity?

The results are in regarding a controversial experiment carried out to determine whether or not offering anonymity via anonymous letters to the editor for commenting purposes would result in an increase in comments. The Freeman Courier in Freeman, S.D. conducted the study over a 6 month period and has revealed that anonymity does not lead to a significant increase in letters to the editor.

Unfortunately- there is considerable "error" in this experiment. The newspaper hoped it could increase letters to the editors by protecting the identity of commenters. The newspaper included one caveot that most likely affected the experiment and the ultimate outcome. Commenters could write in anonymously but have to reveal their true identities to the publisher. The publisher would "promise" to keep their identities secret. This experiment was self-defeating from the start. You cannot offer people freedom of speech through anonymity but turn around and tell them before they can be anonymous they need to provide their identifying information.

The conclusions made by the newspaper that the experiment "failed" are both true and inaccurate at the same time. It was a failed experiment from the beginning because it was not really measuring the impact or "effect" of anonymity on readers willingness to participate in editorial debate. If their comments were ultimately considered defamatory or controversial the publisher may be pressured or subpenaed to provide the true identities of the commenter. So, it is true- the experiment failed.

However, it is inaccurate to say that readers would not participate "more" by using anonymity to provide comments to the editor if they were truly anonymous. Sending an anonymous letter with the caveot of putting a veritable return address on it defeats the purpose of anonymity.

Anonymous messaging and the ability to send an anonymous message is a effective tool as long as individuals believe they are actually protected by the veil of anonymity. It is the belief that they are protected from reprisal and retribution that gives people the impetus to use anonymous speech.

If you would like to learn more about this story from its original source please click here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Send Anonymous Email - Anonymous Messaging

Send Anonymous Email - Anonymous Messaging

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

Online Posters Under Fire From Defamation Ruling

A defamation ruling made by a Marion County, IN Judge is making anonymous posters liable for what they say online. The ruling made by the judge stated that what you say online, even if it is made anonymously, may come back to bite you.

As part of an investigation pertaining to a defamation lawsuit, several local news media outlets were forced to turn over user information about commenters from their websites. The data would effectively provide authorities with the ability to track down and identify posters accused of defaming comments. This dangerous precedent essentially limits opinionated speech. This ruling may become problematic for posters who enjoy voicing their opinions on websites like Facebook and other similar social networking mediums.

A constituional lawyer familiar with the case stated, "opinions expressed online are protected. However, posting something as fact about someone else, with the intent to harm them, could count as defamation of character in the eye of the court. Waples said posting defamatory comments online is essentially the same as publishing them which does meet the requirement for a lawsuit. Posting on a news website doesn't necessarily protect your identity if you're not considered a source."

Clearly, there is a fine line people walk everyday when it comes to expressing themselves and their opinions online. Precedents that come equally close to infringing on freedom of speech can be particularly dangerous and could lead to greater efforts to quell the flow opinionated speech. Anonymous messaging and the ability to send an anonymous message still remains a viable tool to communicate with the authorities, media, friends and family. However- if the developments in Indiana are a sign of things to come, it may not be long before your right to communicate incognito is no longer "your right".

If you would like to read more about this story from its original source, please click here.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...

How To Send Anonymous Email - Anonymous Messaging