1994-08-03 - Re: My light bulb goes on… (was:Re: Tuna fish…)

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From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
To: roy@sendai.cybrspc.mn.org (Roy M. Silvernail)
Message Hash: d5f34251a93270ba45c5f58215032f9c8bd36ef42e4dbf3b6802b0b15b00d18f
Message ID: <199408030043.RAA03037@netcom15.netcom.com>
Reply To: <940802.173235.9o1.rusnews.w165w@sendai.cybrspc.mn.org>
UTC Datetime: 1994-08-03 00:43:10 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 2 Aug 94 17:43:10 PDT

Raw message

From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Date: Tue, 2 Aug 94 17:43:10 PDT
To: roy@sendai.cybrspc.mn.org (Roy M. Silvernail)
Subject: Re: My light bulb goes on... (was:Re: Tuna fish...)
In-Reply-To: <940802.173235.9o1.rusnews.w165w@sendai.cybrspc.mn.org>
Message-ID: <199408030043.RAA03037@netcom15.netcom.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Roy Silvernail writes:

> In list.cypherpunks, Tim strikes gold:
> > (Personally, I think the "volunteer" aspect is at fault here: tens of
> > thousands of users use it for "free," while the software can't be
> > rewritten or maintained adequately. Why not a commercial service? And
> > the same arguments apply, as always, for the Cypherpunks model of
> > remailers.)
> Is this not the killer app that would get ecash off and running?  A
> commercial service selling cyberspatial privacy and accepting anonymous
> ecash for the service sounds like a natural!

Thanks, Roy, but I've been arguing this for a -long_ time, as have
others. The "digital postage" proposal (stamps, coupons, simple
digital cash) fits right in.

Current remailers are run in a haphazard way, with poorly-stated
policies in some cases, with haphazard maintenance, and with no profit
motive to push for higher performance, better reliability, and,
critically, with a commitment to service and long-term viability that
a real business would have.

(To pick one example, without picking on particular people, it's real
hard to take a remailer seriously when it goes up and down, when it
bounces mail, or when a terse message is broadcast saying: "My
remailer is going down for a while because I'm taking my laptop to
Portugal for the summer." I'm not picking on these folks, who are
running remailers as an experiment and as a free service, but this is
part of the overall problem we face.)

There are many issues about remailers that have been written about.
Feature sets such as padding, types of encryption, reordering, etc.
I've written long posts on this, and so have such folks as Hal Finney,
Ray Cromwell, Matthew Ghio, Graham Toal, and others. (We get a lot of
"Say, what if remailers waited a while before remailing?" comments,
which sometimes get responded to, but which are often dismissed.
Suffice it to say that a taxonomy of features can be developed, but
casual analyses of just part of the situation tend not be helpful.)

"Mom and Pop remailers" is my term for the for-profit remailer
services which people could install in their homes, hook up to the
Net, and operate for profit. Digital postage, at a rate they choose
and others can then accept or not accept (and thus not use them).

Yes, a good opportunity for an entrepreneurial Cypherpunk. Lots of
good issues to consider.

(I'll throw out one random idea, one of many: a bunch of remailer
operators (henceforth, just "remailers") can organize themselves into
a kind of "Remailer's Guild." Purely voluntary, as all aspects of
remailers are. The 100 or so members, for instance, could agree to
meet certain standards of confidentiality, and kick out anyone who
violates this standard. For example. Spamming is reduced in a couple
of ways. First, all messages are "paid for" by digital postage (set at
different rates, or by the Guild, all self-arranged). Second,
targetting of any single remailer by a malicious attacker can be
solved by the Guild's arrangement to distribute traffic amongst
themselves, especially before what is likely to be a "final" delivery.
I have a clear idea of this scenario, and why it helps a lot to
distribute risk, but this brief paragraph may not be sufficient to
make the points clearly enough. If there's enough interest, I'll
elaborate more carefully.)

I hope this helps. But newcomers should understand that hundreds of
posts have been made about these subjects. Perhaps the archive sites
mentioned here have some of them.

--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.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."