1993-09-08 - REMAIL: pasting

Header Data

From: hughes@ah.com (Eric Hughes)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 41c702c29446228fc0d70e239ffedd45884c01147f2205d0c4a1a9c9e9dbf14c
Message ID: <9309081810.AA00635@ah.com>
Reply To: <199309071705.AA02648@Menudo.UH.EDU>
UTC Datetime: 1993-09-08 18:17:57 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 8 Sep 93 11:17:57 PDT

Raw message

From: hughes@ah.com (Eric Hughes)
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 93 11:17:57 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: REMAIL: pasting
In-Reply-To: <199309071705.AA02648@Menudo.UH.EDU>
Message-ID: <9309081810.AA00635@ah.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

>I'm not sure about pasting in reply fields to override behavrior.
>That dependes on precedence between "From:" and "Reply-To:", etc.
>Basically, I'm not real familiar with the appropriate RFC :-)

In short, if there's a Reply-To: field present, the mailer is supposed
to reply to that address.  Some mailers don't, unfortunately.  Some
reply to the From: line in the mail, and some reply to the out of band
sender information, usually seen in the "From " line at the top of the

Let's face it, header pasting is a hack.  A very nice hack, in certain
ways, but still a hack.  As currently implemented, header pasting, be
it incoming (::) or outgoing (##), is a syntactic operator, not a
semantic one.

TEXT MESSAGES".  This RFC has several holes in it, however.

The syntactic structure of the header fields indicates that the only
fields which may appear multiple times are receiver fields (To, cc,
bcc, and the Resent-* version of these), Received, and the optional
fields.  (I avoid a too-long discussion of the Resent-* fields, whose
description seems to contradict this definition.)  Therefore, it is
possible to make syntactically counter-spec mail using header pasting.
It is also possible to make such counter-spec mail in emacs mail mode,
for example, but it doesn't seem to bother anybody much.

Yet RFC-822 is followed as much in the breach as in the observance.
In particular, 822 seems to specify that the recipient of the mail be
contained in one of the destination fields.  Yet sendmail takes
parameters on the command line for the destination and ignores the To:
field inside the message.  Now there is a flag for sendmail to parse
the mail and determine addresses, but this is not the default, much
less required.  I think this behavior of sendmail is good, but it does
appear to be counter to the semantic interpretation of the destination
fields as specified in 822.

My own philosophy on this is that one should never flagrantly violate
822 syntactically, and to take it semantically with a grain of salt.

What are the implications for header pasting?  I think it ought to
remain only syntactic, since the semantics that would need to be
defined do not have a solid base in specification, much less in

Yet this pasting does not allow 'overriding' of an existing header
field.  One could write an operator that removes header fields in the
context of header pasting.  In the current remailer situation, this
operator would allow one to remove the "From:" field and substitute
another--instant in-band forgery.

Whether the operators of remailers want to do this is left for