Privacybox: The anonymous messaging system

Aimed primarily at journalists, bloggers and activists, Privacybox is a free service from the German Privacy Foundation, it provides a way to anonymously exchange messages with others without the possibility of anyone tracking down the sender.

If your friend’s computer is seized or stolen and its hard disk looked into there will be nothing linking him to you other than the message contents, Privacybox can be compared to an online dropbox point where you simple drop the messages, including attachments (600Kb) with pictures or documents and it is anonymously forwarded to your contact, all you need to know before sending a message it is their personal contact URL.

Privacybox contact methods

When you create an account with Privacybox you will automatically be assigned four URLs, you can use any of them and pass it on to your contacts, or post it online.

Tor hidden service: A tor hidden service URL website in the form of .onion, only accessible for people using tor and not to the general Internet populace, anyone sending you messages using this URL will be protected by the tor proxy.

I2P anonymous network: You are assigned a .i2p URL, it is only accessible for people using the anonymous I2P network, an anonymous network that encrypts data and distributes it routing traffic through other peers.

Online anonymous dropbox messaging
Online anonymous dropbox messaging

Mobile device access: You will be assigned a .mobi URL for your people to contact you suing a mobile device.

Desktop computer access: You will be given a plain vanilla URL to be access through the normal Internet, this URL; like the others can be posted anywhere, forums, websites, etc.

The sender decides which is the best form to contact you, as long as they have your personal URL, which is not known to anyone unless you reveal it, you can create new contact URL and change your encryption keys anytime you like using Privacybox account management.

Retrieving anonymous messages

Anonymous messages and attachments can be retrieved using the German Privacy Foundation POP3 free SSL postbox, you can find the settings for this inside your Privacybox account, you can use a tor hidden service to receive the email, have the messages forwarded to an I2P mail account (without S/MIME encryption) or have the anonymous messages forwarded to an external email address, the message headers will not contain any identifiable information.

Anonymous online
Anonymous online

In your account settings you can choose no encryption, S/MIME encryption, and PGP encryption, in order for encryption to take place (optional) you will have to supply your own OpenPGP public encryption key or a S/MIME digital certificate (in .pem format)

Interface is multilingual, available in English, German, French, Russian and Portuguese, for questions you can contact the admin team using their online form, PrivacyBox software is open source.

Message deletion and logging

Privacybox claims it does not log any data about the sender of messages and can’t provide any information about it even if compelled, it is impossible to supply what does not exist, however, because the system is open to abuse due to its anonymity, if abuse is reported to them the account will be deleted.

There is no reply function, PrivacyBox is a one way anonymous messaging system.You can erase your Privacybox account any time you like by entering your password in your account, all of the data is then erased straight away and the data backup vanishes one hour after that.

Visit Privacybox homepage

UPDATE 2013: Service has been discontinued.

2 thoughts on “Privacybox: The anonymous messaging system”

  1. Hi Frank,

    we wondered if you’ve ever come across pidder.com – it has a similar approach but with an easier access and additional features.

    We tried to combine the conveniences and benefits of “Web 2.0″ with our right to and need for privacy asking the questions: How can we achieve that security and encryption mechanisms will be available to everyone and not just the selected few who master the technology on their own? And wouldn’t it be great for a change if there was a service that doesn’t want to know anything at all about its users? This is what we want to facilitate with pidder – and we’d love you to take a peak at it.

    Thanks,
    Elsbeth

  2. Hello Elsbeth,

    Yes I have come across Pidder.com before and I think that it makes for a great alternative to Facebook and other social networks, the concept is very good and it seems well implemented. Unfortunately I will not be writing any post about it in the near future because Privacylover is a hobby blog that I update when I can, right now I am very busy with my real job which is what allows me to pay for my rent, I don’t know when I will update this blog again or what it will be updated with I just post here when I feel like it taking it easy.

    Best of luck with Pidder

    Frank

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