2.9.1. "What are remailers?" 2.9.2. "How do remailers work?" (a vast number of postings have dealt with this) - The best way to understand them is to "just do it," that is, send a few remailed message to yourself, to see how the syntax works. Instructions are widely available--some are cited here, and up to date instructions will appear in the usual Usenet groups. - The simple view: Text messages are placed in envelopes and sent to a site that has agreed to remail them based on the instructions it finds. Encryption is not necessary--though it is of course recommended. These "messages in bottles" are passed from site to site and ultimately to the intended final recipient. - The message is pure text, with instructions contained _in the text_ itself (this was a fortuitous choice of standard by Eric Hughes, in 1992, as it allowed chaining, independence from particular mail systems, etc.). - A message will be something like this: :: Request-Remailing-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Body of text, etc., etc. (Which could be more remailing instructions, digital postage, etc.) - These nested messages make no assumptions about the type of mailer being used, so long as it can handle straight ASCII text, which all mailers can of course. Each mail message then acts as a kind of "agent," carrying instructions on where it should be mailed next, and perhaps other things (like delays, padding, postage, etc.) - It's very important to note that any given remailer cannot see the contents of the envelopes he is remailing, provided encryption is used. (The orginal sender picks a desired trajectory through the labyrinth of remailers, encrypts in the appropriate sequence (last is innermost, then next to last, etc.), and then the remailers sequentially decrypt the outer envelopes as they get them. Envelopes within envelopes.) 2.9.3. "Can't remailers be used to harass people?" - Sure, so can free speech, anonymous physical mail ("poison pen letters"), etc. - With e-mail, people can screen their mail, use filters, ignore words they don't like, etc. Lots of options. "Sticks and stones" and all that stuff we learned in Kindergarten (well, I'm never sure what the the Gen Xers learned....). - Extortion is made somewhat easier by anonymous mailers, but extortion threats can be made in other ways, such as via physical mail, or from payphones, etc. - Physical actions, threats, etc. are another matter. Not the domain of crypto, per se.
Next Page: 2.10 Surveillance and Privacy
Previous Page: 2.8 Other Ciphers and Crypto Products
By Tim May, see README
HTML by Jonathan Rochkind