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28th Feb 2005 | 18:29

I've been arguing online quite a lot today, perhaps most prominently on Dave Farber's Interesting People list. I think the EFF are overstating the free speech implications of authenticated email, and that their arguments against new technologies are wrong.


This post happened to coincide with a discussion on the IETF email message format discussion list about syntax changes to support anonymous messages, e.g. by omitting the From: field.


I think this is all pretty worthless. If you are serious about anonymity you should use serious anonymizing technology like mixmaster. The illusory secrecy provided by hiding your email address (but not your IP address) will just get you in trouble.

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Comments {2}


from: pjc50
date: 28th Feb 2005 19:32 (UTC)

The problem here is the responsibility one.

In order to stop spam, rather than just discard it at immense cost, we have to find the people responsible for it and hold them accountable somehow, usually in ways that stop them using email to communicate.

Unfortunately this is in direct conflict with the Libertarian view that people should not be held accountable for their use of email.

I've thought about this a lot in the past, and eventually come to believe that the right layer to handle accountability problems is the legal/political one; the internet should not be built to be legal-action-proof, because then it will be overwhelmed by abuse (like Freenet is full of warez and pron). Rather we should make sure that the actions of the legal system are always just.

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Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 28th Feb 2005 19:45 (UTC)

I agree.

The mixmaster FAQ says a lot about this issue: they have to be very careful about abuse in order to protect themselves from being shut down for reasons of spam and so forth, so they have to have at least some protection. However they mustn't keep so much trace information that their legitimate users can be caught.

Secure anonymity (secure for the person who wants to act anonymously and secure for the rest of the Net) requires a trustworthy intermediary. The second message from the EFF person is basically bemoaning the lack of such an entity. The technical details of email are irrelevant.

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