1993-03-25 - Re: Many Important Items in the News

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From: Hal <74076.1041@CompuServe.COM>
To: <cypherpunks@toad.com>
Message Hash: 2b0d1ba9f7e598a9469371605f6f0b8589fed4e8b841369028c981d602452725
Message ID: <93032518113174076.1041_FHD33-1@CompuServe.COM>
Reply To: _N/A

UTC Datetime: 1993-03-25 18:19:34 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 25 Mar 93 10:19:34 PST

Raw message

From: Hal <74076.1041@CompuServe.COM>
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 93 10:19:34 PST
To: <cypherpunks@toad.com>
Subject: Re: Many Important Items in the News
Message-ID: <930325181131_74076.1041_FHD33-1@CompuServe.COM>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Responding to Phil Karn's proposal that anonymous mail should be clearly 
marked as such:
The only thing I object to in this is that it implicitly gives up one of 
the strongest arguments in favor of anonymity/pseudonymity, which is 
that there is already no way to verify identities on the net.  In Phil's 
analogy with Caller ID, where the net is said to already be a "Caller 
ID" environment, the thing to realize is that the "ID's" are not 
necessarily accurate.  To a large extent, identity on the net is an 
illusion.  Pseudonymous remailers like Julf's should be seen as a 
natural extension of net culture.
This situation is only going to become more extreme as the net continues 
to move beyond its original, relatively controlled, community of large 
universities and government research labs, to include the general 
public.  As more and more "Free Net", Public Access, and BBS systems 
become part of the internet, there is either going to have to be a 
massive and universal crackdown on identity verification, which I think 
is unlikely, or else there is going to have to be acceptance that net 
identity doesn't necessarily correspond to real names.  (I myself have 
had email-capable accounts in three names besides my own on various 
Granted, this argument did not persuade the facist forces which forced 
the shutdown of Julf's remailer, but that doesn't invalidate it.  Julf's 
remailer was not shut down due to reasoned disagreement and a consensus 
that it was wrong; rather, its shutdown was (as far as is known so far) 
a demonstration of raw power by some person or small group.
Responding to Marc Horowitz's point about problems with the idea of 
uncancellable messages:
Marc raises the issue of volume abuse.  I think it's important to note 
that, as far as I know, the Penet postings which people complained about 
where NOT examples of volume abuse.  The objections to these messages 
were based on their contents.  (In some cases, people objected to some 
messages not because of their contents or their volume, but simply 
because they were "anonymous"!)
I realize that Marc was addressing the issue of uncancellable messages 
in general, not specifically with regard to anonymous messages.  I am 
not an expert on news software but reading the debate on this issue in 
news.admin.policy it appears that the current system is far too lax in 
allowing cancel messages.  It appears to be very easy to cancel postings 
made by someone else.  This led to De Pew and his cancel daemon, which 
itself led to counter-threats for cancel daemons to be activated against 
De Pew and other posters from his site.  All this points to design flaws 
in the cancel mechanism.
I do think that it would be appropriate to put more restrictions on 
cancel messages, and digital signatures could play a part in this.  
Perhaps Marc's concern about payment for volume abuse could be dealt  
with by some limitations on large postings.  I don't really know how 
Marc (or anyone) distinguishes between a 100K byte junk file in 
sci.crypt and a 100K byte file in alt.graphics.misc which he might find 
equally uninteresting and for which he has to pay equally.  Maybe he's 
only reading sci.crypt?  In that case perhaps a solution would be for 
the news transfer software to be enhanced to allow some filtering.
P.S. Edgar asks about the mail-to-news gateway at ucbvax.berkeley.edu.
Recently I saw postings indicating that this gateway had shut down.
If anyone has information on mail-to-news gateways please post it here.