The proliferation of wifi hotspot locations may open up new possibilities for anonymous web surfing and mailing.
All email and webmail (hotmail, gmail, etc) messages and web forum posts reveal the IP address associated with the WAN connection through which the message is sent. It appears that ISPs such as Videotron, Bell, Rogers, etc, have the technical capability to trace a specific message or post back to their customer's true identity, by matching the IP address with the customer's account info.
ISP privacy policies offer some level of protection but I have seen several private investigators, advertising on the web, who claim they are capable of extracting the true identity of an ISP's customer from their IP address, even without a court order. I don't know if they bribe someone at the ISP, disguise themselves as LE, or if the ISP is just plain careless.
Anyway, I have come to think that the only way to surf or email anonymously is to use a public hotspot: at an Internet café, a public library, a university, etc., because then you are using that place's IP address, not your own. This is the modern equivalent of calling from a public payphone. The only way someone (LE, PI or whomever) could trace a message back to an individual would be if the hotspot or ISP logs not only the IP address, but also the device's (laptop, PDA, etc) MAC address. In that case, it would be possible to match a post or a message with a device, assuming one can get into that device (hack or steal it) to get its MAC address.
So, my questions to all the techies out there:
1) do ISPs or public hotspots log MAC addresses for every message or post?
2) Is there a windows command or another way to remotely obtain a device's MAC address?