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Re: making mail traceable

2004-01-24 13:31:42

On Wednesday, January 21, 2004, at 01:12  PM, James M Galvin wrote:

Just to be clear, when you use "anonymous" you truly mean anonymous in
the sense of the "remailers" that we used to hear so much about.
Would you permit "site traceability" as compared to "author traceability" or is that too in conflict with anonymity?

Well, I'm cynical enough to believe that both perfect anonymity AND perfect tracability are impossible. So we're always talking about degrees of difficulty. In practical terms, I think the ideal would be a level of anonymity in which a message could easily be traced to the first "reputable" ISP that permitted the message onto the net, but the degree of tracability from there would be highly ISP-dependent. An ISP (or anonymous relay) that wanted to be known as unfriendly to spammers but friendly to anonymous email would have to implement some special measures to keep spammers off *their* system, but I'm not convinced that it would be impossible, by any means -- and much easier for a single service than a standards body. So, yes, imagine a traditional anonymous remailer augmented with additional, possibly proprietary mechanisms to deter spam.

My point is that there are certain types of message that should be easy to trace to their senders, and certain types that should be hard to so trace, and we should do our best to accommodate both. The relevant variables include not only the originator but also the volume of messages from the same source, and the preferences of the recipient.

By the way, I've just become aware of a clever new idea for an economic solution to the spam problem, and it's not just another recycling of the idea of charging postage for email. It's called "Attention Bonds" and is worth a read for the long-term thoughts it provokes:

Cheers.  -- Nathaniel

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