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Is it possible to connect to a wireless hotspot without getting an IP address?

Is it possible to connect to a wireless hotspot without getting an IP address, thus remain anonymous while surfing?

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Internet users must have an IP address in order to surf the Internet. But, when you connect to a hotspot, you are dynamically assigned a private or public client IP from the hotspot provider's address pool. There is nothing that binds that IP address to you as an individual. That IP belongs to the provider, and many customers will use the same IP over the course of time, perhaps even during that same day. The IP is only bound to you for the duration of your hotspot session or DHCP lease, whichever ends first.

If this is not sufficient reassurance, there are many "anonimizer" proxy servers that can be used to obscure your IP address while surfing from any Internet connection. For example, see Free Anonizmer, i-safetynet, SpaceProxy, SilentBrowser, Cotse, and AngelSurf. To learn more about these sites and what they do, visit this page. For example, some disable tracking cookies that might otherwise be left on your computer when you're surfing the web.

This was first published in November 2005

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