Anonymity and Privacy on the Internet- Email

By Rainer Wichmann rainer@nullla-samhna.de    (last update: Jan 26, 2016)

Part III: Obtaining an anonymous email account

While it's certainly possible to use more or less arcane methods for anonymous electronic communication, it's more convenient and for general purposes also more useful to use a mainstream method like eMail, and to obtain an address from a "respectable" email provider.

Of course, in order to remain anonymous you need to hide your IP address by connecting to your email provider always through a proxy, be it a VPN proxy or the TOR network. I will cover here only the case of using TOR, because it offers better anonymity and for email the speed difference is not likely to become inconvenient.

Also, I will only discuss registration and usage of webmail offerings.

Potential problems

Free services only

Using a paid service would lead to the problem of paying anonymously, therefore I will consider only free services (usually financed by advertisement, or offered as incentive to subscribe for more feature-rich services).

TOR (un)friendly

Some sites may not allow registration through TOR, or may not work properly after registration. I'm using the standard setting of the TOR browser for testing registration and basic functionality (send/receive email).

Email address required

Some sites will require you to supply an email address for registration. While there are many disposable email services available on the net (just search for "disposable email", not every email provider will accept a disposable email address for registration.

If you use a disposable email service, remember to use the TOR browser for accessing it!

Mobile phone required

Some email providers will require a mobile phone number to send you an SMS with a PIN for completing the registration. Also, these sites usually will check whether the number provided is a "real" mobile phone number.

Tested and NOT working

Provider Remarks
aol.com Registration not working with TOR (captcha does not load).
gmail.com Registration not working with TOR.
lycos.com Mobile phone number required, not working with TOR after registration (infinite redirect loop).
outlook.com Mobile phone number required (otherwise works through TOR).
rediffmail.com Registration not possible (mobile phone number required, SMS never received)
yahoo.com Mobile phone number required (otherwise works through TOR).
yandex.com Does not work through TOR (both send and receive fail).

Tested and WORKING (at least partially)

Provider Remarks
contactoffice.com Disposable email not accepted (but can use seznam.cz for registration). Adds mandatory "contactoffice.com" signature to emails.
seznam.cz One of the largest Czech providers. Interface is czech only but fairly standard, so basic functions are quite obvious. Sending emails through TOR silently fails (marked as 'sent' but no delivery attempt is ever made). Useful to register for other services.
zoho.com Registration process fails at first (need to retry at later times - might be an intentional feature to thwart automated subscriptions by bots). Otherwise works fine.
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