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The Value of Anonymous Remailers vs. Abuse Complaints and Abusive Comp



[email protected]>

>The most frequent request we have been receiving
>so far is, in fact, about the idendity of the
>originator of the anonymous messages.  Some 
>people are being polite, others are not.
>Basically, all the ones who write to [email protected]*.*
>want to know the email address of the one who
>has offended/harassed/spammed/blackmailed them.

The idea to get across is that that information is not available.
The snail mail services in various countries allow anonymous mail,
after all, so why should e-mail be any different?  People can
deposit mail in public mailboxes with no return address on the
envelope.  People can call from payphones and not have the call
traceable back to them.  People should also be educated that a From:
address, even when attached, cannot be relied upon for accuracy.  At
least anonymous e-mail lets the recipient know, in advance, that the
sender wishes to conceal his/her true identity.

>That is, it is true that a very significant % of
>all messages which pass thru the mixmaster
>network is just trash.
>
>Comments, anyone?

Even "trash" is valuable as cover traffic to thwart traffic
analysis, especially in the Mixmaster world where packets are
intended to be virtually indistinguishable.  Once remailer-operators
get involved in value judgements as to which anonymous e-mail
transactions have redeeming social value, we have sown the seeds of
censorship.  We empower the Gary Burnores of the world to censor by
intimidation when content neutrality is not maintained.

For example, if a certain signal to noise ratio were to be used as a
criteria for the validity of the remailer net, then a self-destruct
device has just been built into it.  An attacker need only inject
enough noise to exceed the threshold and bring the network down.

Consider the episode last year with Gary Burnore and DataBasix vs.
Jeff Burchell and his Mailmasher and Huge Cajones machines.
Made-to-order abuse appeared right on cue to reinforce the claims
that Burnore and his girlfriend Belinda Bryan had made.  And now
we've learned the real truth behind the whole episode.  While Gary
Burnore was living with another girlfriend in Santa Clara, CA, he
was also molesting her teenaged daughter.  An anonymous
whistleblower attempted to warn the girl's mother as well as her
school officials by anonymous e-mail.  Burnore went ballistic and
falsely claimed "harassment".  But the whistleblower was ultimately
vindicated when Burnore pled guilty to the molestation charge, was
placed on probation, and was required to register as a sex offender.
Unable to silence the whistleblower, Burnore began a campaign of
harassment against the operators of the remailers that were being
used to expose him.  IOW, if you can't refute the message, shoot the
messenger.  And if you can't shoot the messenger, attempt to disable
his means of communication (the remailers net).

I recounted this case history, which can be researched in various
usenet archives by anyone interested, just to demonstrate that one
man's "harassment" can well be another man's investigative
journalism, even if the journalist or whistleblower is not in a
position to expose him/herself to retaliation by the wrongdoer,
which has been (coincidentally?) reported by virtually anyone who
has dared to challenge Gary Burnore publicly.