I am not in any way affiliated with DTMF.io. I was not paid to write this (I wish). If I am paid to write about something, I will always disclose it. I will never write things I do not agree with for money. I just happen to think DTMF.io is a good service and people ought to know about it.
One reason I feel compelled to write about privacy and anonymity is there are so many poorly researched guides out there that don’t offer real anonymity, but advertise that they do. Existing guides either have a freedom issue, privacy issue, or other issue which makes them less than ideal. DTMF.io really impressed me, so I decided to share it with all of you. Also, I plan on writing a guide on anonymous ecommerce in the future. When I do that, this post will make a good reference since a phone number is required in many cases when doing ecommerce.
Sometimes I get asked why I insist on such high standards of anonymity, privacy and freedom in everything. What on earth kind of threat model do I have to insist on such high standards? No, I don’t possess state secrets or anything of that level. If I did, I wouldn’t be blogging about Big Brother since Big Brother is probably on the list of keywords that gets flagged by 3 letter agencies. My philosophy on this actually aligns pretty closely with Richard Stallman. I’m just very ethically motivated. Specifically, it’s a matter of preserving my freedom and resisting Big Brother. It’s not just that I want to resist Big Brother. I think everyone ought to hold high standards like I do in order to raise the bar on privacy and protect democracy.
Problems with Existing Anonymous Phone Number Guides
I’ll begin by pointing out a few problems with existing guides out there for obtaining an anonymous phone number. Let’s take a look at appsverse as a case study. Their first method for getting an untraceable phone number is a burner phone.
Why Not Use Burner Phones?
There are 3 major problems that come to mind with burner phones:
- They are materially wasteful. All the effort that went into manufacturing the burner phone and it’s just going to be used temporarily, perhaps just once, then become e-waste. They’re bad for the environment.
- They run proprietary operating systems and software. This is bad for your freedom. Because of their freedom issues, there’s no way to ensure they don’t covertly surveil you. The whole point is that they’re supposed to be anonymous, so this is kind of self-defeating.
- You’ll need to remove the batteries or put the phone in a faraday bag when you aren’t using it. Turning it off isn’t effective since you might accidentally hit the power button. Since we’re trying to preserve the number’s anonymity against Big Brother, it can’t ping nearby cell towers at places you’re associated with. You can’t send or receive sms or calls unless you take it out of the bag, so you’ll have to only use it at a remote location. Going to a remote location just to make a call or check your messages is very inconvenient.
Just Hide My Caller ID?
The second method appsverse suggests is hiding your caller ID. This isn’t anonymous against Big Brother so we can disregard it.
What About Apps?
Method 3 is phone apps. Appsverse recommends phoner, which is a proprietary app that give you burner phone numbers. The problem is most of these apps are proprietary and you should never install them. Don’t go through the Goo-lag Play Store or crApple App Store looking for burner phone number apps. Almost all of them are proprietary garbage. Another example is Burnerapp.com. It’s proprietary and requires your name, email and phone number tied to your real identity. Also, there’s no way to pay anonymously. How can your phone number be truly anonymous if you have to identify yourself to get it?
I know I criticized using apps for an anonymous number before, but that’s because they are proprietary. DTMF.io supports SIP. So, you can use free (as in freedom) SIP calling apps to make calls or you can use the official free (as in freedom) DTMF.io app for sms and calling currently available on Android. You can build it from source for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac and GNU/Linux. Voice calls aren’t currently supported in Windows or GNU/Linux though. It does not require Goolag Play Services and only asks for permissions it needs. It will even work without camera, microphone or contacts permissions enabled.