It just got easier to remain a nobody on the Web.
The Guardster service, unveiled in 2002, lets you surf without giving away personal information to nosy Web sites. It cloaks you by rewriting your browser's request, sanitizing the resulting pages, and returning them to you. The whole process adds 20 to 50 milliseconds to your browsing experience, but sites you visit can't identify you or your trail.
The advantages of Guardster are clear for people, companies, and even governments that deal in highly sensitive information. But what do Joe and Jane Surfer have to hide?
It's more complicated than that. It is true that subscribers can use the service to keep their employers from seeing what they're doing online at work. And it can help you hide a browser's true history from your significant other. But Guardster's mission is to protect your information from the outside world. This is especially true with the explosion of Spyware on the Web.
Most people are aware that there are privacy issues on the Internet, but the reality is that information gathering is now ubiquitous. More than 90 percent of Web sites gather information, and with new technologies, such as Web bugs, you don't even have to see an ad to be tracked.
People may see no harm in advertisers taking a little information here or there. Over time, however, the accumulated information is significant. And the Internet has a long memory.
Google archives the entire Internet. Anything you say in a chat room is part of history. With the cost of storage dropping, companies are likely to just hang onto that data. It's a scary situation. People aren't thinking about that.
Guardster provides its users with the security of knowing that all the world only sees its server and not the user's actual information. Guardster also provides tools for encrypting all data between the user and the Guardster servers and to other Guardster users.