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Re: anonymous remailers, network computer, singles sites, etc.

OK, I can't resist this one...

> an interesting subset of anonymity is being
> used very intensely with online personals!!
> here's a sophisticated example
> http://personals.swoon.com/e_personals/static/help.html#e-mail
> they have a lot of info on how their site
> acts as a remailer for email messages.
> this is a very "slick" online magazine clearly showing
> huge amount of production cash which I personally
> haven't heard too much about. a bit risque for
> some peoples tastes, but very intriguing application
> of cyberspace one never would have dreamt up just a 
> few moons ago.

I think maybe you need to have your dreaming apparatus checked out.

As far as I know, the very *first* anonymous remailing system on the
Net, which was created long before there was a Cypherpunks list and long
before there was a Worldwide Web, was the anonymous posting/reply system
for alt.sex.bondage. It was quickly followed by systems for a few other
groups. Especially prominent among these were the anonymous contact
systems for alt.personals and alt.personals.bondage.

Actually, I may have the order wrong. In any case, the systems were
definitely well established by 1990, and I seem to remember them
starting up in around 1988. Since they also predate things like
DejaNews, and since my memory of those days is clouded by age and
general dissipation, it's would take some resarch to find out exactly
when they were set up, and I don't think I care to do it.

I believe that these systems were the inspiration for
[email protected] They sort of fell apart when the PENET remailer came into

Of course, these weren't truly anonymous systems in the sense that the
Cypherpunks remailers are, or in the sense that Zero Knowledge is
setting up, but they were probably more secure than the remailing
services on most personals Web sites.

... and newspaper personal ad sections have been providing a similar
service with paper mail for longer than I've been alive. Probably for

There's actually a closely related "identity escrow" application that I
expect to see soon, if it hasn't already been done. People who meet for
anonymous sexual encounters are putting themselves at increased risk of
assault, murder, and that sort of thing, but typically don't want to
tell their mothers where they'll be. A system that could be used, under
carefully controlled conditions, to find out who they were with when
they disappeared, would act as a deterrent and might provide a bit more
peace of mind.

                                        -- John B.