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Re: Problems with anonymous escrow 2--response

[email protected] (John E. Kreznar) writes:

>Hal <[email protected]> writes:
>> it
>> is no more desirable to allow dossiers to be built up about your on-line
>> personality than your off-line life.

>But is this really true?  If a seller is using the pseudonym just to
>defend himself against uninvited third parties such as tax collectors,
>it would seem that accumulation of a dossier would be useless as long as
>the physical seller can't be found.  What would be gained by
>transferring the credential (the evidence of the seller's marketable
>skills or whatever he's selling) to a new pseudonym?  I assume that the
>seller receives payment by some anonymous method, perhaps electronic
>cash.  Am I missing something?

Well, there are at least a couple of reasons why a seller might want to
do this, one (IMO) good and one bad.  The good one would be to allow
sellers to do socially or politically unpopular things without being
punished for them.  For example, someone selling pro-civil rights material
during the 1950's, or someone selling homosexual rights material today
might find themselves facing a certain amount of prejudice if they also
wanted to sell more mainstream stuff.  By being able to run two businesses
which are unlinkable but to apply their good credit record, good customer
response record, etc. from one business to the other, we encourage diversity
and a free market in ideas.

On the other hand, an unscrupulous seller could open up a string of
businesses, be honest for a few months to collect some good credentials
like this, then fold the business and keep customer money.  He then
opens up a new business and uses his old good credentials to get going
quickly, only to repeat the process.

Both of these kinds of activities happen today, but in the network
environment there are a lot more possibilities for records keeping.
Today it may be an open secret that "Praise the Lord Publications" and
"Hot Sex Novels" are both published by the same guy, but probably most
of his customers don't know it.  On the net it will be a lot harder to
keep this kind of thing secret because of the greater access to infor-
mation.  Likewise, the fly-by-night boiler-room telemarketing service
may have a harder time competing in a network environment where the lack
of a track record will be more obvious, but the cryptographic credentials
which solve the first problem may also allow this tactic to be more
successful as well.