The Man Who Created A False Identity For Internet Experiment

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A New York artist invented a fake personality on the Web who was able to provide fully legal identity documents.

The possibility of using pseudonyms and programs such as Tor, which allow for anonymous surfing, have led the web to host in its gut the contents of dubious legality, ranging from drug advertisements to instructions for making a bomb, as well as the possibility of hiring an assassin.

But there is always some trace that can help you find out who is accessing this kind of information. To see if this is true, and inspired by the persecution of cyber-activist Aaron Swartz by the US authorities, New York artist Curtis Wallen decided to find out how far he could go into the most hidden side of the web without revealing his true identity.

His idea, according to the blog “Experiensense”, was to become a modern Dr. Frankenstein and give life to a new physical person, fake one, but with his own legal identity. In order to carry out his project, Wallen bought a second-hand computer, cleaned the hard disk completely and installed the Ubuntu operating system to navigate the web using only and exclusively the Tor network. In addition, he set up an encryption system with the aim of leaving no trace and acquired some Bitcoins that would allow him to purchase things anonymously.

The second step was to create what would be his fake identity, the digital alter ego. To do this, he took several photographs of the faces of his flatmates, his girlfriend and himself and, using Photoshop, created the image of a new person, which he named Aaron G. Brown.

Wallen’s goal was to prove that you can surf the web by dodging the multiple controls that private companies and public agencies use to control Internet users’ movements, which he did after obtaining Ohio state driver’s license and a boat license, in addition to hiring the services of cable television company Comcast and an insurance policy at one of the nation’s most important firms under the fake identity of Aaron S. Brown.

Now, this New York artist has enabled a proxy server so that anyone can surf by posing as Aaron Brown and assume this fake identity through his Twitter account. Wallen hopes to collect all the material that generates this digital fake identity and display it in an art gallery to warn that even today the Internet has a very dark side.