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The Earliest CP Remailer *DID* Emphasize Anonymity
At 7:22 AM 9/2/96, Bill Stewart wrote:
>>From what I know of remailer history, the main original goal
>of the cypherpunks-style remailer was to provide
>security against traffic analysis by eavesdroppers, rather than to
>prevent the recipient from knowing the sender's address, though
>everybody pretty quickly realized that the latter was an interesting
>feature, especially coupled with posting to Usenet.
No, the focus was at _least_ as much on providing anonymity as on
protection from eavesdroppers or traffic analysts. More so, actually.
How do I know this? Well, I was the one who did the presentation on
Chaumian mixes at the first meeting, describing them as remailers and using
paper envelopes-within-envelopes to illustrate the concept.
Later that day, in the "Crytpo Anarchy Game" we played to educate the
attendees, remailers were used to post anonymous offers of goods and
services, to make contact in message pools, and to generally implement a
crypto-anarchic, distributed system. (With some obvious flaws, stalls, and
other weirdnesses.) Still, it embodied most of what we see today (and a lot
more that we still haven't managed to implement).
The next afternoon, Hugh Daniel, Eric Hughes, and I went out for some
bagels and talked about what had been learned. Either Hugh or Eric had the
idea of coding up the remailer in C or Perl. As it turned out, Eric was the
one to do it, a few weekends later, using Perl (which he learned enough of
on Saturday to then do on Sunday). The first remailer was put for use and
immediately began to be used for anonymous postings.
And all of the early uses were explicitly to anonymize the sender, not to
deter eavesdropping (which conventional crypto works well for, anyway).
The Kleinpaste-style remailer was in a nascent stage, and Julf was running
one on his site. But we all knew the longterm advantages of chained
remailers, and, of course, even the very first Hughes remailer supported
arbitrary chaining. And we also knew of the central defect of the
Kleinpaste-style anonymizer, that law enforcement would seek the records
through subpoena. As it turned out, penet lasted longer than I for one
thought it would.
PGP encryption was added soon after to the Hughes-style remailer, by Hal
Finney, as I recall. Later developments, by Matt Ghio, Lance Cottrell,
etc., added to the capabilities.
So, the anonymizing and arbitrary chaining (which is for protection against
collusion of the remailers and subpoenas of logs) features were there from
the start. Even before the start, as the "Crypto Anarchy Game" had them.
(I've been clear that it was Eric Hughes who coded the first Perl version,
but I feel I have to make my own role clear. There are some critics of me
here on this list who have claimed "Tim has never done a thing for
Cypherpunks except talk." Well, besides organizing the first meeting with
Eric, and giving the morning talk on the topics mentioned, and
demonstrating the role of mixes and digital cash, and writing articles on
many topics, and setting up BlackNet (which actually works, and is not just
an idea), and on and on, I'm satisfied with my contributions. Your mileage
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected] 408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Licensed Ontologist | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."