[PracticalSecurity] Anonymity - great technology but hardly used

Hagai Bar-El info at hbarel.com
Wed Oct 26 15:43:04 EDT 2005


At 25/10/05 07:18, cyphrpunk wrote:
> >  http://www.hbarel.com/Blog/entry0006.html
> >
> >  I believe that for anonymity and pseudonymity technologies to survive
> >  they have to be applied to applications that require them by design,
> >  rather than to mass-market applications that can also do (cheaper)
> >  without. If anonymity mechanisms are deployed just to fulfill the
> >  wish of particular users then it may fail, because most users don't
> >  have that wish strong enough to pay for fulfilling it. An example for
> >  such an application (that requires anonymity by design) could be
> >  E-Voting, which, unfortunately, suffers from other difficulties. I am
> >  sure there are others, though.
>The truth is exactly the opposite of what is suggested in this
>article. The desire for anonymous communication is greater today than
>ever, but the necessary technology does not exist.
>For the first time there are tens or hundreds of millions of users who
>have a strong need and desire for high volume anonymous
>communications. These are file traders, exchanging images, music,
>movies, TV shows and other forms of communication. The main threat to
>this illegal but widely practiced activity is legal action by
>copyright holders against individual traders. The only effective
>protection against these threats is the barrier that could be provided
>by anonymity. An effective, anonymous file sharing network would see
>rapid adoption and would be the number one driver for widespread use
>of anonymity.
>But the technology isn't there. Providing real-time, high-volume,
>anonymous communications is not possible at the present time. Anyone
>who has experienced the pitiful performance of a Tor web browsing
>session will be familiar with the iron self-control and patience
>necessary to keep from throwing the computer out the window in
>frustration. Yes, you can share files via Tor, at the expense of
>reducing transfer rates by multiple orders of magnitude.

I agree with what you say, especially regarding the frustration with 
TOR, but I am not sure it contradicts the message I tried to lay out 
in my post.

Secure browsing is one instance of anonymity applications, which, as 
I mentioned, is used. I completely agree that technology may not be 
mature enough for this other instance of anonymity applications, 
which is anonymous file sharing. My point was that there is a lot of 
anonymity-related technology that is not used, especially in the 
field of finance; I did not claim that there are technological 
solutions available for each and every anonymity problem out there. I 
apologize if this spirit was not communicated well.

It's not that we have everything - it's that we don't use most of 
what we do have, although we once spent a lot of efforts designing it.


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