1994-12-11 - Re: Storm Brewing Over Forged Bob Rae Posting?

Header Data

From: Hal <hfinney@shell.portal.com>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 42c691141d14ebab2f6460acd8255c1728a5c51bad381757318bfa386808a57c
Message ID: <199412112338.PAA18920@jobe.shell.portal.com>
Reply To: <199412112037.MAA16882@netcom18.netcom.com>
UTC Datetime: 1994-12-11 23:39:06 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 11 Dec 94 15:39:06 PST

Raw message

From: Hal <hfinney@shell.portal.com>
Date: Sun, 11 Dec 94 15:39:06 PST
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: Storm Brewing Over Forged Bob Rae Posting?
In-Reply-To: <199412112037.MAA16882@netcom18.netcom.com>
Message-ID: <199412112338.PAA18920@jobe.shell.portal.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Ironically, I did not know about this brouhaha until reading about it
here today.  A few days ago I got this email:

	Subject: Premier Bob
	To: hfinney@jobe.shell.portal.com
	Date: Fri, 9 Dec 94 8:10:36 EST
	Congrulations! Your forgery made the Globe and Mail today.

This meant nothing to me so I ignored it.  But on reading the article
this appears to be a major incident, involving heated accusations and
walkouts on the floor of the Ontario legislature.  The Portal system,
the internet service provider I use, has apparently taken some heat but
they have not contacted me.

A thread in can.politics titled "The Bob Rae Forgery Caper" includes a
copy of the original message.  Here are some excerpts from the Globe and
Mail article, which was widely cross-posted.

>TORONTO - Progressive Conservative Leader Michael Harris caused an
>uproar in the Ontario Legislature yesterday by presenting a prank
>letter circulating on the Internet computer system that is
>purported to have been written by Premier Bob Rae.
>  The computer message has Mr. Rae making tasteless references to
>Ontario's Attorney-General Marion Boyd and commenting on the trial
>of Karla Homolka, who was convicted in the slayings of two Ontario
>  A copy of the letter obtained by The Globe and Mail warns that
>"this message is NOT from the person listed in the from line. It is
>from an automated software remailing service" in California. This
>message was on the letter from the time the company received it and
>passed it on to the computer bulletin board where Internet users
>can read it, said Gwen Rachlin, director of operations for Portal
>Communications of Cupertino, Calif., through which the message was
>  Ms. Rachlin said the company received a call from police about
>the letter yesterday afternoon. But she said the company had
>already had "some incidents" with the source of the message. She
>added that she was ready to co-operate with the police.
>  The source of the message was an account that provides a service
>that allows people anonymous access to the Internet, she said.
>  Mr. Sherman said it is very easy to post a false message on a
>bulletin board and to make it appear that it came from a computer
>different from the one that sent it.
>  By going through a California bulletin board, "obviously someone
>has gone way out of their way to send that in," Mr. Sherman
>  Even so, the message can be traced, said Rick Broadhead, co-
>author of The Canadian Internet Handbook. "If they [the sender]
>have gone through a service, it is going to take some more work to
>trace it," Mr. Broadhead said. But looking at the log records of
>the computer service, police can follow the message back to the
>originating computer.

I do not have any logs of this message.  However, my remailer does not
insert any delays so it is conceivable that sendmail logs could give
some insight into message flow through the remailer.  I don't know what
obligation I would be under to cooperate with any investigation.  The
message itself had some pointed political satire but did not look to me
to violate any US laws.  There is not much I can do to help, anyway.
The article indicated that the legislature has now gone into recess for
the year so hopefully this will all be old news by the time they

One thing I do notice on reading the discussion in can.politics is the
fact that despite the disclaimers in the message headers, some people
took this as a forgery attempt on my part.  I wonder if it might be
necessary to insert disclaimers into the body of the message as
anon.penet.fi does, at least for messages to known mail-to-news

There was also a misperception that my remailer was an official effort
endorsed by Portal (again, despite the disclaimers).  Note that it was
they who were contacted, not me (yet).  This might suggest that it will
not be possible to cleanly separate the remailer operators and service
providers when problems like this arise.  Both may end up being hassled
(time will tell whether I am).

It should be interesting to see what happens.