1994-02-15 - Re: Detweiler abuse again

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From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
To: warlord@MIT.EDU (Derek Atkins)
Message Hash: d9b07186df58b43479d63b25642deb5a30f04d373d973cb442e090076c748736
Message ID: <199402150457.UAA14579@mail.netcom.com>
Reply To: <9402150338.AA02234@toxicwaste.media.mit.edu>
UTC Datetime: 1994-02-15 05:07:31 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 14 Feb 94 21:07:31 PST

Raw message

From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 94 21:07:31 PST
To: warlord@MIT.EDU (Derek Atkins)
Subject: Re: Detweiler abuse again
In-Reply-To: <9402150338.AA02234@toxicwaste.media.mit.edu>
Message-ID: <199402150457.UAA14579@mail.netcom.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Derek Atkins writes:

> I disagree.  While I can honestly say that I don't like most Detweiler
> posts, I feel that he is showing us the possibility of how remailers
> can (and are) being abused.  I think censorship is the wrong answer.
> I think there needs to be some accountability, even if it is anonymous
> accountability.

It's really not censorship for Hal or any other remailer operator to
say _his_ machines, accounts, reputation, etc., will be used to mail
death threats to whitehouse.gov, for example, or mailbombs to
newsgroups and mailing lists.

(I'll concede that I sometimes use the word "censorship" in this same
sense Derek was using it, as in "Apple is censoring its employees." I
suppose we need a word for this sense, the non-government censorship

But semantics aside, "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch," and
part of the evolutionary development of remailers and anonymous
systems will include various "non-ideal" intermediate stages. Until we
have digital postage, for example, the recipient of Detweiler's
mailbombs has to pay for them. This is a contributing factor that
points to the need to filter at the input to the remailer.

(Note that this filtering is not happening at Detweiler's machine, or
with armed goons going to his house to stop him, etc.)

In Chaum's DC-Net, "disruption" is the problem he devotes most of his
attention to. Not the basic idea, which is explicated in the first few
pages of the paper ("The Dining Cryptographers Problem," Journal of
Cryptology, Vol 1 No 1, 1988), but the implications of a malicious
disruptor intent on shutting the DC-Net down.

What we have in Detweiler is just the first instance of such a
disruptor in our (limited) version of a DC-Net.

With all due respect to my colleague Derek, with whom I agree in many
ways, saying we don't believe in censorship is not an answer.

Derek's further comments about some kind of receipt that comes
back....I'll have to think about that further. My hunch is that that
may break the total anonymity (that we strive for as a principle) and
should be avoided. I'd recommend we all go back and look at the
DC-Nets paper. This paper, by the way, was scanned in and OCRed by the
"Information Liberation Front" (another one of Detweiler's faves) and
is available, last time I checked, in the Cypherpunks archives at

> But I feel censorship is *always* the wrong solution, unless it is
> done at the end-point.  I.e., I can *choose* not to read posts from
> detweiler, or an12070, but that is my choice.  I do not think anyone
> has the right to say to me that I *cannot* read his posts.  It should
> be my perogative.  Maybe we should change our systems to allow for
> anonymous accountability?

Yes, but Hal has not obligation to accept messages from known
disruptors, any more than you have an obligation to "never censor"
people by keeping them out of your house.

Long term, users will have to learn ot have "positive reputation"
filters, or to hire their own screeners or moderators, but in the
short term, Detweiler's mail bombing of dozens of lists with posts
about Nazis, BlackNet, kiddie porn (I predict this next), and tax
evasion will almost certainly result in most of all of the remailers
being shut down by legal pressures.

No simple solutions.

--Tim May

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
tcmay@netcom.com       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409           | knowledge, reputations, information markets, 
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA  | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power:2**859433 | Public Key: PGP and MailSafe available.