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A typical webcam broadcast contains many identifying features, such as a the username of the video's author, the website through which it's streaming, and the Internet Protocol (IP) address associated with the internet connection supporting the broadcast. These items can be used to positively mark the sending computer of a webcam transmission, allowing them to be identified by other users across the network. An anonymous webcam transmission is a webcam transmission which either blocks or masks these identifying features, allowing the transmission to take place in relative privacy. Creating an anonymous webcam transmission is a good idea if the end user is concerned that another user might attempt to track or locate them based on the information sent across the web exchange.
An anonymous webcam connection works by obfuscating the IP address of the sending computer. The IP address of a computer is a unique set of characters that positively identifies a specific computer on a network. It is typically provided in a 10-digit format separated by decimals: 123.456.77.89. An IP address can be hidden through processes known as masking or blocking.
Masking the IP address of a webcam exchange refers to the process of substituting a fake IP address in place of the real one. In other words, the receiving computer can view an IP address, but it will not reference the computer actually sending the webcam broadcast. Often, the masking IP address refers to a computer or computers located in a completely different country than the original sender, providing for a fairly high level of privacy.
Blocking the IP address provides the receiving computer with no IP value. The advantage to blocking over masking is that there is nothing to "decode" or "unmask;" the receiving computer is given no data whatsoever. One disadvantage to this is that it become obvious that the sending computer has a hidden IP, which raises potential warning signs about the authenticity and intentions of its user.
In addition to hiding the IP address of a sender, an anonymous webcam broadcast will hide all other potentially identifiable details as well, such as the username of the person sending the broadcast. On one hand, permitting anonymous webcam broadcasts allows the retention of privacy online; on the other, it destroys accountability for individuals exploiting or otherwise abusing webcam broadcasting services.