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Would this be enough to achieve total anonymity on public wifi with an Android device:

  • use Orbot
  • spoof your MAC address
  • turn off location services
  • turn off cellular data

Are there any other services that should be disabled? For example under 'Running services,' I see 'Android Core Apps,' 'Google services,' etc.

How would we do the following:

  • turn off GPS (I can ask this question on the Android exchange if this doesn't belong here)
  • emergency calls, such as 911, can be use without cellular data. Is emergency call tracking information continuously transmitted? If so, is there a way to turn it off?
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    This is way too broad, in particular because no one can define total anonymity in such a way that it can be achieved. For example, no matter what you do, WiFi chips have unique quirks that allow them to be identified, even if you spoof the MAC address. I believe there was a paper a year or two ago showing this.
    – forest
    Sep 17 '18 at 3:19
  • I see, so the transmit pattern could give away the manufacturer/model. But the original MAC would still not be visible, correct? Sep 17 '18 at 3:32
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    The original MAC itself would not be visible, assuming no vulnerabilities. But since vulnerabilities exist, absolute anonymity is still impossible.
    – forest
    Sep 17 '18 at 3:37
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    Apart from that Orbot by default only protects services which are explicitly configured to use it (i.e. proxy settings). In general I doubt that you can the level of anonymity you are trying to achieve with a stock android phone where play services etc are running. You might reach a level where the owner of the Hotspot can not figure out by its own who you are but for example Google still knows who you are. Sep 17 '18 at 4:53
  • @SteffenUllrich Could you clarify what you mean by your first sentence? I understand that if you browse the web using Google with Orbot, they will still know who you are because of their pixel, but if you use a private tab, Google shouldn't know who you are, correct? Sep 17 '18 at 12:58
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First, with your phone manufacturers OS you can never be sure what is running and which applications send data where.

So as a first step you have to install a operating system where you can know what is inside. The best choice would be Replicant because it is 100% free software and you can get the source code for all parts of it.

Because Replicant supports a very limited number of devices, you might have to resort to LineageOS. Some parts of it are non-free, so you can never be 100% sure what it does, but still a lot better than your stock OS. Under no circumstances install the Google Apps package!

Then you switch the phone to flight mode and disable GPS and WiFi location services. Then you switch your MAC address and then enable only WiFi.

You can then surf the internet with Orbot and Orfox somewhat safe.

This will prevent websites from knowing where you are. Of course you still have to be very careful to not enter any personal details in any form on a website. Also, of course, you can only use Orfox to browse the web, never download any other apps and run them.

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  • Suppose I just want to browse the web anonymously. Do I need to install a custom OS? Sep 19 '18 at 1:46
  • @user2233706 that depends on exactly your requirements. Without a custom OS you can never be sure what information is transmitted and to whom. Almost certainly your location is sent to google and probably your phones manufacturer. Sep 19 '18 at 7:48
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  • Use a custom roms (AOSP) without Google Apps.
  • Use VPNs like Cyberghost, psiphon or use proxy app orbot because it also bypass the censorships
  • Ghostery will protect you from 13 to 15 third party tracking services.
  • And last don't expect total anonymity.
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  • Orbot uses Obfsproxy. Is that enough to bypass censorships? Sep 17 '18 at 12:59
  • @user2233706 If your ISP is censoring connections to the Tor network, obfsproxy should be enough to bypass said censorship.
    – forest
    Sep 18 '18 at 2:43

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