Anonymous remailers allow individuals to send electronic mail without transmitting any information that would enable others to determine the identity of the author.
Finally, the infrequent use of anonymous remailers by cyberstalkers should not pull attention from the negative effect that these tools can have on the law enforcement process.
This safeguard is to a certain degree eliminated by the use of certain mail servers known as "anonymous remailers," mail servers designed to conceal the sender's identity by replacing the message's return address with an address pointing to the remailer.
Since the remailer system is premised on the sysop's implicit promise not to divulge that information, faith in the security of anonymous remailers has been shaken since the sysop of the most popular remailer, Finland-based anon.penet.fi, was compelled by Finnish authorities to disclose the identities of three user's names.(22) A user may obtain more secure anonymity by "chain-remailing," a method by which users send their e-mail message to one remailer, which in turn sends it to another remailer, and so on.
(22.) See generally Andre Bacard, Anonymous Remailers <http://www.well.com/user/abacard/ remail.html> (visited Nov.
Numerous current efforts are aimed at enabling Internet consumers to carry out anonymous activities, such efforts include CyberCash (www.cybercash.com), which enables anonymous cash usage in Internet commerce; various anonymous remailers
that enable anonymous email communications; Anonymiser.com, which permits consumers to browse the Web anonymously; and intelligent Web agents such as Jango (www.marimba.com).
Many, on the other hand, arrived in the Usenet feed beating addresses like "an email@example.com," identifying them as having been transmitted through a well-known Finnish "anonymous remailer." Anonymous remailers like anon.penet.fi operate very simply: If Alice wants to send an anonymous message to Bob (or to alt.religion.scientology), she prepares the message and sends it not to the intended recipient but to the anon.penet.fi address (along with forwarding instructions); the remailer simply strips off all of the information from this message related to Alice (and the machines that Alice used to transmit the message), and it then forwards the message - now containing a "return address" indicating only the remailer from which it came - as instructed.
an arm of some multinational organization?) responsible for a number of postings containing large chunks of the Scientology secret materials - have begun to arrive through a chain of multiple anonymous remailers. This makes it far more difficult to secure the necessary cooperation from local authorities that would be required to trace the messages back to their source(s).
In a move that sent shock waves across the Net, many of whose denizens believed that anonymous remailer technology was somehow foolproof, CoS representatives in early 1995 marched in to the offices of the Finnish police and managed to obtain a warrant authorizing the police to search the anon.penet.fi mail logs for the identification information pertaining to an 144108.
They keep records of the real identity of pseudonymous traffic so that abusers can be identified and reprimanded.(11) Recent years, however, have witnessed the development of a trend towards the establishment of "anonymous remailers" who provide a guarantee that messages cannot be traced back to their sources; diverting traffic through several of these remailers can effectively render an audit trail impossible, once again raising the specter of true anonymity.(12)
Cybercommunities have also conducted online discussions of appropriate behavior, and imposed sanctions on violators, in the controversy over anonymous remailers. The fiercely held and opposing views regarding anonymity on the Internet expressed by this lengthy online debate have little or no counterpart in the real world.
One might propose that the international community prohibit anonymous remailers. Some more discerning analysts of the cyberscene have suggested that servers who choose to provide an anonymous service should be held responsible for abusive messages posted on the system, since the real abusers would not be identifiable except through the entrepreneur providing this service.(96) Therefore, one might distinguish between potentially hazardous message sources and other more innocuous uses of anonymity, thereby enabling the law to insulate from liability the majority of information providers while imposing liability on those originating the abusive messages.