DEMO: Program guarantees browser anonymity

A company called Zero-Knowledge has wowed an audience at the Demo 99 conference with a demonstration of its Freedom 1.0 application, which ensures 100% anonymity to Web users through digital pseudonyms. The program, which creates a pseudonym for $10 per year, hides a Web surfer's true identity- and renders useless any user profiles created by tracking mouse clicks or online discussion content.

A company by the unusual name of Zero-Knowledge wowed an audience at the Demo 99 conference this week with a demonstration of its Freedom 1.0 application, which ensures 100 percent anonymity to users browsing the Web through the use of digital pseudonyms.

The program, which creates a pseudonym for $10 per year, hides a Web surfer's true identity. As a result, the program renders useless any user profiles created by tracking mouse clicks or online discussion content.

"Even if we are subpoenaed for information about a customer, our answer would have to be [that] we don't know," said Austin Hill, president of Zero-Knowledge.

"All Zero-Knowledge has is encrypted data," said Hill, who paused before finishing the thought with a swipe at the U.S. government's currently restrictive encryption policy. "And our encryption scheme can be shipped worldwide because we are from Canada."

The program is focused on "social interaction" at the moment but can also be useful under other circumstances, said Dov Smith, a spokesman for Zero-Knowledge. Corporations wishing to do research on a competitor's site might want anonymity, Smith said.

Freedom 1.0 will be in beta testing in March and is expected to ship this spring.

Zero-Knowledge Systems Inc., in Montreal, can be reached at www.zks.net.

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