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Re: Digital Postage (fwd)

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> Date: Sun, 28 Sep 1997 15:52:22 -0400
> From: Anonymous <[email protected]>
> Subject: Re: Digital Postage (fwd)

> Jim Choate wrote:
> >> Ecash is in place right now.
> >
> >True, but there are only 3 systems and it is not clear at all which
> >will dominate and be used by all parties.
> No, there is only one system which provides anonymity.  It's called ecash.
> The other systems do not have the features we want.

Yes, but it does not have a clear market advantage. In fact the anonymity
issue may actualy work against it.

> There is a commonly held belief that one form of payment or another
> must dominate.

I can assure you that any business will not use multiple protocols unless
their interface is the same for all of them. There simply isn't enough
business to have very many systems.

Ask yourself this, how attractive would the Internet have been if it had
required users to install and manage multiple communications protocols for
every connection?

> This is an artifact of laws which require a society to
> use one type of payment.  Historically there have been a wide variety
> of different currencies, just as there has been a wide variety of any
> "commodity."

Different currenciens don't mean different payment systems. Even though we
have dollars, yen, rubels, etc. the things people do with them and the
way the systems are built are pretty much the same. This is why
international business works in the first place; they got banks, we got
banks. If I can buy a Quarter Pounder (Le Royale) in the US I figure I
can work it out in Russia.

> >Also there is the issue of security in regards to maintaning
> >anonymity when there is such a small pool of parties to use. Doesn't
> >take a genius to figure out where to hang out and watch the action.
> Do you mean watch the bank and see who is using e-cash?  That might
> tell you who is using remailers, but not much else.

But who is using the remailers is the point in traffic analysis if I'm
not mistaken. Not very anonymous if they know who you are.

> >> This is easily worked out between the remailer operator and the
> >> customer.
> >
> >How? There is certainly no clear mechanism in place. Does the
> >customer contact each remailer operator prior to sending the traffic,
> >thus opening up N opportunities for anonymity cracking.
> Can do!  Remailer operators can easily advertise what they sell and
> how much it costs without compromising the customer the same way they
> advertise their remailer and its features now.

Can do what? Anonymity cracking or create a payment system that allows
for the intermediate parties to be paid but doesn't over-burden the
user? The point is not to have the poor end user have to create a half-
dozen payment arrangements to get chaining. It becomes a real hassle to
do at that point. We're talking about the people that drive the one block
to the store to get more beer...

> I recommend that people start pricing at a quarter per message per hop
> because it is easier to move prices down than to move them up.

This is the silliest thing I think I have heard so far in this

A quarter a message per hop is about 2,000+ times too expensive to make
anonymous remailers work. The key to anonyous remailers is not the
cost per message but rather the amount of traffic to be carried.
Anonymous remailers are beasts of mass markets measured in millions of

And my experience is that prices move up and people expect them to.

> >If the operators agree to a system how do we get there? Is it time to have a
> >anon-remailer conference to settle on distributed payment schemes?
> Absolutely not.  The remailers certainly don't have to charge the same
> rates.  Each remailer operator should use a pricing scheme that works
> for them.

But the system to post charges BETWEEN remailers must be pretty consistent
to be acceptable. That is the key and it has NOT been discussed too any
great degree. That inter-remailer traffic must be anonymous also or else
traffic analysis can back-track.

It seems to me that the remailers need some sort of anonymous payment
server that is put in place for some other reason, that way they don't
have to deal with the justification issue. The most obvious issue where
anonymous purchasing would be of interest to the regular consumer is to
prevent the collection of information about them through their purchases.

Perhaps what we need is a business which purchases things as an agent of
its members and then distributes them through some anonymous tracking
system. That way the only stats collected by retailers are those of the
aggregate purchasing requests. Then a member could request the purchase
of some credit line on a remailer. The remailers could become members of
such a system and purchase credit lines on each other to deal with chaining
payment issues.

> >Unless it is pertty serious nobody is going to pay such a fee just to
> >send an email around.
> What is being sold is privacy and security, not e-mail transport.  It
> has great value to me and many cypherpunks.  If you don't value it,
> that's your business.

What is being sold is anonymity. It does not necessarily provide
privacy and may in fact decrease your security.

> >The problem I see is one of scale. The infrastructure for handling
> >physical mail is very 'bulky' and requires a lot infrastructure.
> >Email on the other hands effectively rides on the back of an existing
> >Internet infrastructure for nearly free.
> You are confusing one cost of doing business with the price the market
> will bear.

How? What I am saying is that physical mail and the system developed for
dealing with it went hand-in-hand. The design and advancement of the
Internet technology is not driven by email or it's technology. That perhaps
because of this difference perhaps we need to look at models other than
the postage one. It in fact may be coloring our perception and a look at
alternative models might help.

> >Because of the historicaly low cost for email this would tend to in
> >general indicate a low market value on anon remailers.
> Not to people who care about their privacy.  But, I agree that the
> price per hop will likely drop far below a quarter, not because people
> won't pay more, but because they won't have to.  If it's basically
> inexpensive to provide remailer services (and it is), price
> competition should reduce the costs.

The remailer itself is cheap, it's the rest of the system that needs working

Furthermore, most people who want privacy aren't going to be saying
anything anyway, anonymous or otherwise. The people who will use anonymous
remailers are people who have something to say but for one reason or another
don't wan't it tied to them personaly. It's not privacy but 'plausible
deniability' they are looking for.

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