1996-05-19 - Re: The Crisis with Remailers

Header Data

From: Steve Reid <root@edmweb.com>
To: “Vladimir Z. Nuri” <vznuri@netcom.com>
Message Hash: 486929fc7ea22ec9103c95055ec305df7a57f09fc9f8f20fe7c7f1121f23b346
Message ID: <Pine.BSF.3.91.960518183037.484A-100000@bitbucket.edmweb.com>
Reply To: <199605171738.KAA05800@netcom9.netcom.com>
UTC Datetime: 1996-05-19 07:58:54 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 15:58:54 +0800

Raw message

From: Steve Reid <root@edmweb.com>
Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 15:58:54 +0800
To: "Vladimir Z. Nuri" <vznuri@netcom.com>
Subject: Re: The Crisis with Remailers
In-Reply-To: <199605171738.KAA05800@netcom9.netcom.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.BSF.3.91.960518183037.484A-100000@bitbucket.edmweb.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

> 1. there is no economic incentive.
> typically buying yourself *negative* publicity by running a remailer.

As you said, ecash postage could turn that around. The negative publicity
part is probably the result of the general public's negative perceptions
about anonymity. 

People seem to forget that anyone can drop a letter into the mailbox with
no return address. Did the Unabomber bring negative publicity to the 
postal service, causing people to demand that return addresses become a 
requirement? :-/

> 2. there is no good way to deal with spams or other so-called "abuse"

Unfortunately, abuse is also a factor in people's negative perceptions
about anonymity. 

I wonder, would the average spammer be less likely to spam if he had to
PGP-encrypt messages to the remailer? I know we want to make remailers
easy to use and not limit them to the technologically elite, but requring
encryption would have the added benefit of improving security. I believe
some remailers already require encryption; have any Spam Statistics been

Ecash postage might discourage the average spammer, unless that spammer
has deep pockets. With postage, the only spam I can think of that would
gain money or break even is a commercial advertisment, and there's no
point to using remailers for commercial ads anyways, since people need to
know how to contact the business. 

> 3. liability

Liability depends on the jurisdiction, doesn't it? It would be ideal if
all remailers were in countries where there are no laws that would affect
remailers. Reducing liability also has the added benefit of protecting
anonymity, since if the mailer can't be siezed, that does prevent log
files (if any) from being siezed.

Do any such countries exist???

Also, if a remailer could be set up to _only_ remail to other remailers,
that would greatly reduce liability. Obviously we'd still need _some_
remailers that can deliver to the intended destination... I think a lot 
of people would be more willing to run remailers if it didn't mean that 
mailing list/usenet spam would have their name attached. 

Remailers can already be set up _not_ to send to certain addresses, so I 
think there's no reason that they couldn't be set to deliver _only_ to 
other remailers.

> are perceptual, not technological. if people can find a way
> to handle the above issues and still provide anonymity, it will
> spread. otherwise, I doubt it will ever become very "mainstream".
> perhaps the above problems are intrinsic to anonymity, which would
> be a pity in my view.
[butchered for brevity] 
> of course if people don't want remailers to ever go "mainstream"
> anyway, well then there is no problem. the remailer network still
> has an "underground" feeling to it and perhaps that will always
> be part of its draw, and its actual structure.

Right now, I think, remailers don't need to be mainstream, they just need
to be there when people need them. And I think they can become mainstream,
if you consider that anon.penet.fi is quite popular. 

Just my two bits.

| Steve Reid - SysAdmin & Pres, EDM Web (http://www.edmweb.com/)    |
| Email: steve@edmweb.com   Home Page: http://www.edmweb.com/steve/ |
| PGP (2048/9F317269) Fingerprint: 11C89D1CD67287E68C09EC52443F8830 |
|          -- Disclaimer: JMHO, YMMV, TANSTAAFL, IANAL. --          |