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Re: RSADSI vs. Remailers (Meta Strong Crypto)

[Hal forwards articles mentioning that the jpunix remailer is down after
complaints were made regarding the remailing of "copy-written" material.
The jpunix remailer is the visible remailer used to post the RC4 source
code to cypherpunks.]

(Meta Strong Crypto)

This points at one of the weakest links in the crypto anarchist's toolset.
To the extent that the sheep^H^H^H^H^Hpublic becomes concerned with the
"implications" of the tools of crypto anarchy, there will probably be
attempts to outlaw or otherwise control these tools.  Take the recently
much discussed notion of the risk-free placement of "contracts to kill".
This relies upon almost all of the major tools in the crypto anarchist's
toolkit.  I count four in this case:  the existence of strong public key
cryptography; the existence of widely read and used public bulletin boards
(such as alt.test); the existence of untraceable digital cash; and the
existence of secure anonymous remailers.

Of these four, strong public key cryptography is here today and would be
very difficult to regulate legislatively at this point.  Likewise, widely
visible public bulletin boards are rock solid.  Untraceable digital cash is
of course not really here today, and it is possible that attempts to outlaw
it could be made.  However, Swiss banks have specialized in anonymous
accounts and similar services for a long time, and there could be
significant financial gains to be made from issuing untraceable digital
cash.  It seems likely that there will be banks in Switzerland or elsewhere
that will be more than happy to do this.  Then the only impediment can be
at the level of outlawing the *use* of digital cash.  However, the
combination of secure public key encryption and anonymous remailing would
make the use of digital cash impossible to detect.

This leaves anonymous remailers as the one vulnerable link in the chain.
Imagine that a country (say the USA) decides to outlaw the operation of, or
use of, any anonymous remailer.  I don't see how any of the other tools of
strong crypto could be used to circumvent such laws.  The last link in an
anonymous remailer chain is always visible.  The operator can be prosecuted
for operating an anonymous remailer, if inside the borders of the country
(or even outside, given recent USA claims to be able to kidnap foreign
citizens on foreign soils for prosecution within the USA).  It still might
be possible to have anonymous remailers operating safely outside the
borders of the country -- but it would be possible to monitor for traffic
*destined* for these remailers, leaving the country.  Since no anonymous
remailers exist within the country, the origin of this traffic can be
determined, and the sources can be prosecuted for use of an anonymous

(Going Out On A Limb)

One possible way around this societal control of anonymous remailers might
be the existence of very large DC-nets (or related technologies).  The idea
here would be to effectively spread the social responsibility for the
operation of an anonymous remailer out over such a large segment of the
population that societal (legal) pressures could not be effectively brought
to bear to suppress it.  This would in effect be a type of political
movement... the participating members of these vast "DC-nets" would
effectively be members of a kind of political group.  This membership would
be intrinsically visible, since it will be used to *construct* the
possibility of anonymity, and cannot rely on it.  In order to be immune
from suppression by the rest of society, the membership rosters would have
to be comparable to that of a major political party... probably on the
order of millions of members (at least hundreds of thousands).  Getting
there would be the tricky part... during the initial formation stage, when
the membership rosters are low, the group is susceptible to be legislated
out of existence.