Anonymity on the Internet means an Internet user without a traceable origin. The origin of an Internet user can traced from anywhere in the world and by anyone in the world with the help of the IP address. But when the user effectively hides his IP address from the world, he is said to secure complete anonymity. Any Internet user who wishes to remain anonymous throughout his internet-usage period can remain so with the help of tools like software that can hide the IP address of his computer.
Privacy on the Internet, on the other hand, refers to the safety of the data and details being used and entered by the Internet user when he is online. The privacy, of, the password used to sign into one’s e-mail account, the sensitive data like residential address and phone number of an user being sent through an e-mail to a friend or the high-risk data like bank account details being sent though an e-mail to a client, all constitute online privacy. An Internet user can take the help of Internet track eraser software to delete all the Internet tracks that might lead to his personal and sensitive data that he needed to use while he was online.
The Internet is a place where law and ethics go haywire more than often. Experts have no dearth of tricky tracking and hacking tools by which they can trap and harm unaware and unsuspecting users. In such scenario we need to understand the difference between anonymity and privacy.
The basic differences between anonymity and privacy lie in their seekers and the intentions. Barring a few, who want to hide their IP addresses from different ad companies to prevent being bombarded with campaigns, surveys, polls and newsletters, most “clean” Internet users generally only seek online privacy. They only intend to protect the data that they need to enter and use while they are online. With privacy comes accountability. Thus seekers of online privacy are generally aware, cautious, sensible, responsible and law-abiding people.
On the other hand, users seeking anonymity are mostly wrongdoers of the cyber world who are involved in identity theft, phishing, spamming, etc. Their engagement with cyber crime needs them to be as anonymous and as untraceable as possible. Their anonymity helps them to completely cloak themselves when law enforcers try to track them down. Thus the option, of seeking anonymity, available to an Internet user, often makes tracking down of cyber-criminals totally impossible. Internet users seeking anonymity are often those who do no want themselves to be found out after they have done some wrong. This lack of accountability is the biggest problem with anonymity.