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Re: remailer abuse

At 05:27 PM 11/19/95 -0800, Greg Broiles wrote:
> If A wants to send
>messages to B, but B doesn't want to receive them, should A be forced to
>stop sending?

My rambling $.02:

I haven't thought all this through, but I have an emerging stance. Just this
week I've started ploughing through the Cyphernomicon, and was smacked in
the face with the eminently pragmatic Mr. May's statement that any law that
cannot be enforced should not exist. 

Up until, say, this week, I'd always been in favor of Caller ID. I'd figured
if anyone wants to call me, I have the right to know who it is. By default,
I had adopted this position concerning email. Now, one day I will receive an
anonymous email. Will I be offended? Maybe. Can I do anything about it? Not
likely. Anonymous communication is only going to get easier. Current
congressional prattling notwithstanding, the onus of responsibility will
have to shift to the recipient. For example, I could configure my mail
program to automatically throw away any incoming message with "anonymous" in
the "From" header. (Or any message from *@pseudo.goldenbear.com, for that

If junk mail continues to bother people, it's only a matter of time until
mail programs' filtering capabilities become much more sophisticated. (Of
course, for all I know, there already ARE programs that do what I'm about to
propose.) People can maintain a "do not accept from" list, containing every
anonymous remailer they've ever heard about, or an "accept only from" list,
containing just the people they wish to converse with. I think it's this
second option that will become increasingly important. Sure it's your right
to send me whatever the hell you like, just as it's my right to ignore you
completely. Bringing this back to my hobby-horse of Caller ID, you end up
with even greater protection than an unlisted number--let the whole world
know my number--no one'll get through unless I already know him. And then in
the brave unregulated future, if you make a new friend, you merely swipe his
public-key business card through your PDA, which adds it to your "accept
calls and emails from" list.

And to take a stab at another pair of Greg's questions, if A is sending
messages from his account on X's system to B, and B doesn't want to receive
them, should B have the right to make X stop A? No. (Not that I think the
law is going to realize that any time soon.) Should X have the right to stop
A? Hell yes--it's his system. Let A find a more open-minded ISP if he
doesn't like it.

Corey Bridges
Security Scribe
Netscape Communications Corporation