1996-05-23 - Re: The Twilight of the Remailers?

Header Data

From: Andrew Loewenstern <andrew_loewenstern@il.us.swissbank.com>
To: mpd@netcom.com (Mike Duvos)
Message Hash: bdffba24268e09e509f9d7918b7411b6298fadd5cffe484448c2a582f0c9601a
Message ID: <9605221917.AA00675@nwk2_ocalsl>
Reply To: <199605220316.UAA18744@netcom2.netcom.com>
UTC Datetime: 1996-05-23 06:24:30 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 23 May 1996 14:24:30 +0800

Raw message

From: Andrew Loewenstern <andrew_loewenstern@il.us.swissbank.com>
Date: Thu, 23 May 1996 14:24:30 +0800
To: mpd@netcom.com (Mike Duvos)
Subject: Re: The Twilight of the Remailers?
In-Reply-To: <199605220316.UAA18744@netcom2.netcom.com>
Message-ID: <9605221917.AA00675@nwk2_ocalsl>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Mike Duvos writes:
>  Contrast this with a DC-Net of boxes which can covertly inject
>  packets into the Net, in some untracable manner.  Now we have
>  no identifiable "Hal" to be harrassed, and no one for the
>  Clams to aim their lawyers at.

While this is a nice thought, it is incorrect.  You can't "covertly inject  
packets into the Net, in some untraceable manner."  The output of the DC net  
is simply a block of random-looking bits for each member of the net.  Someone  
must XOR each of the blocks together before the message is readable.  If the  
addressee is not personally watching the DC-net and assembling all the  
blocks looking for a message, someone else must do that and put it out on the  
Internet (via e-mail, usenet, IRC, etc...).  That someone is the person who  
is going to take the heat for the massage.  It is exactly the same situation  
as with current remailers:  someone gets mail they don't like, they trace it  
back as far as possible (i.e., to the remailer operator).  The last person  
holding the 'hot-potato' gets burned.

Since it looks like the "everyone's a remailer" dream is not becoming a  
reality, the key to successful remailers is to make the *operators*  
untraceable as well.   If you can't trace the operator, you can't hold them  
liable.  We have discussed techniques for doing this before:  cash paid  
accounts, using dialups (possibly from a public phone).  The remailer must be  
a 'sacrificial cow' that can be snatched up by 'authorities' at any time.

Because it takes considerable time, effort, and money to setup and run a  
remailer that is untraceable to the operator, there must be compensation.   
The solution is a typical cypherpunk one: Digital cash postage that is  
collected by the remailer, encrypted with a public key, and posted to  
alt.anonymous.messages.  Our untraceable remailer operator sits back and  
collects the cash until the remailer is forcibly shut-down.  Then he starts  
up a new one (assuming this is profitable).

While I haven't actually had experience running a remailer, I can imagine  
that the hassle of initially setting up the remailer in an untraceable manner  
may actually be less than the hassle of dealing with complaints.

The age of remailers with publically known operators is drawing to a close.   
Basically the only missing link is the digital postage.  If we get that,  
then being an anonymous remailer operator could be the first cryptoanarchist  
job that basically anyone can get and where you can collect money completely  
untraceably and tax-free.  To me that seems like a big step towards the  
future that many of us have been discussing for the past few years.  A very  
exciting prospect.