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Re: Fwd: Anonymous Long Distance Phone Calling


Matthew Ghio writes:

> I thought this might be of interest to cypherpunks.  Especially the part
> about encryption...  I would also be interested to know if anyone has
> dealt with this company (reputation and so on).

> ---------- Forwarded message begins here ----------

> From: [email protected]
> Message-Id: <[email protected]>
> Date: Sat, 24 Sep 94 13:57:47 EDT
> Subject: Re: Anonymous Long Distance Phone Calling

> The phone card is used like any other phone cards, instead of making a
> permanent record of your call with either  a calling card or charged to  your
>  home phone, you use a  pre-paid debit card.  Useage is very simple:You first
> call a toll-free 800 number,  and then you will be instructed by the computer
         ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ sigh.
> to enter your PIN number. The computer  will notify you of how many $ worth
> of calls you have left. Then you will be able to call your long distance
> number (U.S. or worldwide) with complete anonymity.  The card can be used
> from any touch-tone phone, at home, the office or on the road from any pay
> phone without needing any coins.  The computer will notify you when you have
> only one minute left on your card.

This scheme seems to boil down to "trust us, we won't tell" anonymity;
much like the C-punk remailers, but it'd get awfully expensive to chain
with these cards at $.35/min. There are two opportunities for tracking/
logging - when the cards are purchased, and when the calls are made. 
("800" number calls deliver the caller's number to the owner of the 800
number - sometimes immediately, sometimes as part of billing detail.)

The cards seem to trade convenience (no pocket full of quarters) for
security (they may track purchases after all). There's nothing at all
anonymous about them if you don't use them from payphones, or other
unsecure public phones.

Cards like these are available for cash at Western Union offices,
greeting card stores, and truck stops. They're also more likely to be in
the $3-20 range instead of $50 or $100 - which is nice, because you
shouldn't reuse them if you don't want eavesdroppers to tie your dealings
with party A to your dealings with party B.

I don't see much value in encryption if it's not end-to-end; seems like
most potential eavesdroppers are going to be located on the customer-to-CO
link at either/both ends, which won't be encrypted unless you've got 
crypto gear installed at caller and callee locations .. which makes
their product much less interesting. 

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