RealTime IT News

Zero-Knowledge Urges ISPs to Become Privacy Partners

Remaining completely anonymous on the Internet is no small task. If Zero-Knowledge System's President Austin Hill has anything to say about it, his Freedom Network will make online privacy a basic universal right.

More than 50 Internet service providers and independent server operators have joined forces with Zero-Knowledge to support the Freedom Network, an international association of server operators that support privacy on the Web and in e-mail, newsgroups and chat rooms.

"This represents the first time that ISPs have taken concrete steps to address users' privacy concerns. Our original goal was to sign up 25 ISPs and we're overwhelmed by their commitment to the privacy issue while we are still in beta testing," Hill said.

Freedom Partners operate servers that route encrypted Freedom data through an untraceable path in real-time. Privacy is assured for both the sender and recipient because no single party knows the IP address of both the source and the destination. Freedom users are immune to uninvited scrutiny of their online activities.

The system is more pseudo-nonymous than anonymous in that users create a pseudonym to use on the network. Zero-Knowledge erases the original information gathered to create the non-traceable identity.

Spammers can't benefit from hiding their identity through Zero-Knowledge because anyone posting more than 300 e-mails a day has their access level lowered. E-commerce and cookie-laden Web sites that cull information about web surfers are not able to track digital footprints or electronically tag their web preferences.

"By joining the Freedom Network, ISPs differentiate themselves and offer added value to their customers by supporting Internet privacy," said Greg Adelstein, director of business development for Zero-Knowledge.

Addelstein added that ISPs can "generate revenue while reducing operating costs and liability because all Freedom Network communications originate from an @freedom.net address. A significant portion of an ISP's liability issues can be offloaded directly to Zero-Knowledge because the source of problem can not be traced.

ISPs that join the Freedom Network can download the software for free and earn additional income from users that sign-up for the Zero-Knowledge program. Hill said that Zero-Knowledge adds about 5,000 new anonymous identities each week and that they have signed up 35,000 netizens to date.

The Freedom Network currently includes server operators in the U.S., U.K., Netherlands, Japan, Canada, Austria and Australia.