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Social dynamics and remailers

Blanc Weber makes many excellent comments and raises good questions in the
post titled "Re: Virtual assasins and lethal remailers" dated 9/18/94.  I
would summarize the gist of that post as questioning the value or even
possibility of attempting to predict social dynamics.

Today, Hal Finney writes:

>Anonymous remailers as presently constructed
>will be almost completely ineffective against any significant government
>attempts to surveil email traffic....
>...Instead, anonymous remailers are clearly targetted against non-government
>traffic analysis, generally local associates, system operators, employers,
>supervisors, and so on.

I think that here is an excellent example of how a consideration of social
dynamics can lead to suggestions for action today.  Even if we cannot
really hope to control or predict the reactions of society, this shouldn't
excuse us from doing what we can.

In this particular case, Hal points out that it is really the relative
insecurity of remailers today which makes them unthreatening to the
government and society at large.  If cypherpunks successfully deployed a
network of remailers which used message padding, message reordering, etc.
so that they were secure against even government level monitoring, then we
could expect to see the government/society to become quite alarmed by them
and attempt to regulate and control them... probably successfully.

Anonymous remailers certainly are useful and valuable even in their current
form.  I perceive that many cypherpunks would not question the assumption
that making them even more secure would obviously be a desirable thing.
Yet it might be precisely this course of action which would most quickly
lead to the rapid imposition of controls on their use.


Doug Cutrell                    General Partner
[email protected]               Open Mind, Santa Cruz