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Re: [freehaven-dev] 'The Economics of Anonymity' draft ready

> Paul Syverson and I have finished a short position paper on the
> economics of anonymity. We explore some of the open issues in strong
> anonymity systems, such as the need for high anonymity sets, lack of
> good incentives for users and servers, and problems with scaling these
> systems to a widespread volunteer infrastructure.

Your paper makes several interesting and important points, and there is
one I'd like to discuss in more detail - legal issues. We are planning
to start a public user trial of a mix-net very soon, but before doing so, 
we want to get an idea about potential problems we might run into.

I have contacted Anonymizer.com and they do not keep logs for more than
2 hours and - according to them - have never had problems with legal 
issues. I found that surprising, especially since it's a U.S.-based 
company. What about other systems that were and are operational? Has
Zeroknowledge  ever run into problems with authorities about legal 
issues (Adam?) with their former Freedom system or their current 
WebSecure? Zeroknoledge stats that "At no point do we ever link 
information in server logs to identifiable individuals or customers. 
Raw server logs are kept only as long as necessary for security 
purposes." What does "only as long as necessary for security purposes"

And if no logs are kept, what would ZKN do if the police (e.g. following
a court order) or whoever contacted them and asked to monitor a particular 
user? Would ZKN comply? Probably yes (?). That would mean that monitoring 
the masses would no longer be possible, but monitoring particular persons 
would still work.

I wonder what would happen if any of these anonymizing systems played
an important role in a major criminal act. It probably hasn't happened 
so far, but it may well be the case in the future if such systems get
widely deployed. Would the operators of the system be (partly) held 
responsible for such an act? I completely favor any privacy-enhancing
technology in the Internet, and the majority of Internet users probably
does too. But I also think this public opinion could change drastically
if a major abuse were detected. Compare it to polls after September 11th: 
at least in the U.S., the majority of people suddenly accept that their 
privacy is compromised for an incrased 'national security'...


Marc Rennhard
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Computer Engineering and Networks Laboratory (TIK)
ETZ G61.1, Gloriastrasse 35, CH-8092 Zurich
phone/fax: ++41 1 632-7005/1035   
E-Mail: rennhard@tik.ee.ethz.ch
WWW: http://www.tik.ee.ethz.ch/~rennhard
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