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Re: Remailers and ecash


Robert A. Costner wrote:
>At first I thought some of the stuff Monty Cantsin was discussing was
>interesting, but it has gotten out of hand.

Isn't this the list for people who get out of hand?  Maybe I'm in the
wrong place.  ;-)

>I've asked the question before, Why would remailer operators want to
>accept Ecash?

I guess "to make money" is obvious.  Remailer operators may also want
to help get some kind of cypherpunk economy going.  Right now the
relationship between remailer operators and users is asymmetrical.
They provide and we use.  It would be better if the users could help
out the remailer operators, too.

And, if we can really get a profitable remailer market going, then it
becomes much easier to get people to start remailers, for instance, in
other countries.  Given certain political developments, we probably
want to get a lot of the remailer network established around the

>After seeing the conflicting messages coming from Mr. Catsin (sic), I
>to rephrase it, why does *Mr Catsin* (sic) want remailer operators to
>use Ecash?

Monty Cantsin wants the whole cypherpunk thing to happen.

Aside from the benefits of getting the remailer network going, there
is also great benefit to getting a small community using ecash
regularly.  Once that happens, we can start to find other services
that community can use.  From there ecash could become a pretty hot
item.  Once something like this starts to take off, it can take off
very quickly, especially where money is involved.

As for "conflicting messages" what you are probably seeing is
different ideas and (maybe) a little learning.  It's good.  It's
healthy.  I'm trying to find a way to make stuff work.

>The first answer I got was so that remailer reliability could
>increase.  The theory as I understood it was that remailers were run
>like a hobby, not a business, so the money would be an incentive to
>bring in professionalism.  So I proposed, and documented, that the
>minimum level to achieve this would be a $50K investment over a
>year's time.

Your proposal seems to be intended to show how this is impossible.
Well, it's not impossible.  You and many other people have already
sunk the costs.  Accepting money is just one more little step forward.

If you are arguing that the day after you accept money you won't make
a profit, that's probably true.  But, since you're volunteering
anyway, what's the big deal?  If you are arguing that there's no way
anybody can ever make a profit, then you are talking about something
which is simply unknown.

We will probably have to do other things to get the remailer network
really going.  And we will do them.

>Making remailers more difficult to use by adding Ecash is not going
>to increase traffic significantly.

Remailers that accept ecash can also accept free mail, although it
might be a good idea to offer premium service to the paying customers.

>>I recommend that people start pricing at a quarter per message per hop
>In my opinion, and I've been known to be wrong, this is a seriously
>messed up comment.

No, it's a professional comment.  Amateurs always underprice
themselves.  Then, they discover they can't make money at their low
prices and go under.  Try to price it as high as you can, make some
money, and grow wealthy.  If you get a lot of resistance, you lower
the price.  This works.

>A quarter per message is too much, much less a quarter per hop. A
>price of 1/100 of a penny per message is closer to a proper

Let's say you have ten hops in your chain.  That costs one tenth of a
cent.  Are you seriously claiming that many people wouldn't pay more
than one tenth of a cent to avoid being harrassed, persecuted, or

To say that a remailer is just like e-mail and should be priced the
same is like saying a bank is just a warehouse for money.

What remailer operators are selling is trust, privacy, and security.
We the users trust them to conceal our traffic flows and our
identities.  Sometimes this will save our lives.  That's worth a lot
more than one tenth of a cent, isn't it?

What is more, markets where trust is involved tend to very good for
the people who are already established.  You are not going to save a
dime and risk your life or fortune.

>But the problem here is in the pricing model.  It should not be
>transactional unless to encourage the very casual user.  A pricing
>model should be flat rate.

This has already been covered.

1. A flat rate which results in associating all messages with one
account is unacceptable, even if the account itself is anonymous.

2. This implies that some sort of blinded credential will be used.

3. Ecash is already a blinded credential and the software is already
written, and it is probably easier to use than a blinded credential

At best, the transaction costs of ecash and some other blinded
credential are the same.  The only reason fixed rate deals are good is
because it lowers the transaction cost.  This will not work with
remailers because it defeats their purpose.

Unit pricing is always preferable when transaction costs are free
because the lighter users of the service don't end up paying for the
heavy users.

>The point I have never gotten past is how you expect a payment system
>to change the level of service?

Trade is a good thing.  "If you will do this thing, I will do this
other thing for you."  All sorts of things result from this.

If remailer operators were making some money, maybe not even a lot, it
would certainly make them a little more interested in finding ways to
get people using remailers.  Many of these ways we haven't been
thought of yet.

>The next point I'm still shaking my head over is what about remailer
>services is not up to your standards?

It may be that the remailer network is better than I thought.  You
claim no messages are lost, but I have yet to confirm that this is the
case.  Nobody else seems to know what the remailer statistics mean.

Alex de Joode and you both say that the latencies result from message
reordering.  This also remains to be confirmed.

But, even if the existing network of remailers were perfect in every
way, we could still have more of them.  I would like to have hundreds
of remailers to route my traffic through and that will not happen
through a volunteer effort.

>If anything, people would pay to add latency, not to take latency

Now you're getting it!  Yes, people will pay for service and special
features, even special features that Monty Cantsin might not pay for.
(Until properly educated, that is.)

>  >Remailers are used by a small highly specialized market of perhaps
>  >a few hundred people.
>They encompass millions of users.  Millions of users who want a
>remailer, but will not tolerate the level of entry required for a
>Type-I or Mixmaster remailer.  Until client software can be improved
>and made as easy to use as an integrated spelling checker, the
>"advanced" remailers will have no true market share.  (Oh, I forgot.
>Most of the world uses email clients without integrated spell

It is such a mistake to worry about the mass market right now.  Do you
have $10 million to mount a nationwide advertising campaign?

That means we start with a small specialized group of perceptive
people and get things rollling.

It may even be the case that the product never hits the mass market.
But, if it is useful to a few million select people, it will still

We talk a lot about "Joe Sixpack" on this list, but he's probably a
waste of time.  It's just too expensive to educate people who aren't

What should we do in this situation?:

>Cypherpunk: Hey, Joe, how are you doing?
>J. Sixpack: Well, me and my whole family were finally accepted to the
>Federal New Millenia Program and we're going down to the induction
>center tomorrow!
>Cypherpunk: Gee, I heard on the cypherpunks list that they just kill
>everybody.  Are you sure you really want to do that?
>J. Sixpack: Oh, you conspiracy theorists!  It's not that way at all.
>They have shuffleboard, jacuzzis, golf... I saw the brochure!  And
>they say you only have to work three hours a day and you get full
>medical coverage.  It's so great that most people never even come
>back for a visit!

I say we let him go.

Monty Cantsin
Editor in Chief
Smile Magazine

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