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Re: "Remailers can't afford to be choosy"

Without going back and reviewing my precise words in my first post on this
topic, I don't think Lance is doing anything unreasonable. My comment was
more to the point that a lot of the talk I see about filtering topics,
looking at content, blah blah blah, is basically inconsistent with the
basic concept of a "digital mix," a la Chaum.

At 7:19 PM 9/21/96, Lance Cottrell wrote:
>One important differentiation to make is filtering on form vs. filtering on
>content. Most if not all remailers have clear usage guidelines. These
>indicate several form restrictions on what messages the remailer is
>offering to transmit. These restrictions may be on message size,
>instruction formatting, number of destinations for one message, or number
>of identical messages. These restrictions are no more censorship than
>restricting messages to SMTP compliant ascii.
>Where people do not follow the stated rules, I take action to enforce them.
>Either by source blocking the abuser if known, destination blocking the
>destination, or trying to apply public pressure. I think all these actions
>are completely reasonable, given that the proper use guidelines were
>clearly defined up front. It is similar to putting up a fence around your
>yard when people start hanging out there uninvited.

Clearly stating policies is fair enough. In the future, with a rich ecology
of remailers, I would expect many kinds of remailers with many kinds of
policies, prices, etc. Still, it is always useful to remember that a
remailer is first and foremost a _remailer_, not an inspector of content to
determine appropriateness of topics, whether a receiver "wants" a remailed
message, etc. (None of the main "physical remailers," e.g., the US Postal
Service, Federal Express, UPS, Airborne, etc., offer "destination-blocking"
or even "source-blocking" services. Of course, they charge some form of fee
for remailing. And there is nominally a return address (albeit easily

>Are you suggesting that I not take perfectly legal and open actions to
>enforce the public statement of allowed uses of my remailer?

No. I think clearly stated policies are perfectly legit. What I was getting
at with my "remailers can't afford to be choosy" point was a more general
point that sometimes seems to get lost in the discussions, namely, that
remailers will, perforce, be used for lots of unpopular, disgusting,
flamish, etc. uses. Not all remailer uses are noble whisteblowings (*).

(* In fact, some whistleblowings are amongst the most "most illegal" uses!
The person within General Dynamics who uses a remailer to describe contract
fraud in the Tomahawk Cruise Missile program is almost certainly putting
the remailer operator under intense pressure, just as is a person using a
remailer to post the Church of Scientology NOTS documents. To me, they are
the same. Hence, "remailers can't afford to be choosy.")

--Tim May

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,
Higher Power: 2^1,257,787-1 | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."