anti-spam law implies laws against remailers? (was Re: bulkpostage fine)

Tim May tcmay at
Fri Aug 8 00:47:45 PDT 1997

At 10:05 AM -0700 8/6/97, Adam Back wrote:

>2) When the government or whoever wants to sue someone for spam they
>   will have to prove who the spammer is.  (Right?)  So now they'll
>   look at the From address at it will say remailer at  So
>   they'll go have a chat to Fred Q Cypherpunk who operates foo, and he
>   won't be able to cooperate because he doesn't keep logs.  They won't
>   be happy with Fred, and will pass this information along to him by
>   stealing his equipment, prosecuting him for assisting in a felony
>   crime (they'll make it a felony right?), lock him and throw away
>   the key.  But what about Freds constitutional protection of the
>   speech forwarded by his remailer?  (Judge + congress-critter:
>   Constitution wassat?)

Delivery services are not held liable for the contents of the packages they
deliver, generally. (If they are parties to the crime, natch. And some say
they can be compelled to assist in law enforcement activities.)

Nor are delivery services required to "know their customer" or to have
ironclad proof of where a package originated. (Hell, even the U.S. Postal
Service allows mail with no valid return address, and this was my
experience in Europe as well.)

The "From:" field in e-mail is not to be confused with the "originator"
(whatever that may be).

Not even the U.S. courts are so dumb as to accept the claim that a package
delivered by the U.S. Postal Servie or by UPS means that Joe Deliveryman is
the "sender."

When this "From:" thing eventually gets to a court, I expect this
distinction will be obvious to all.

Remailers are just middlemen in a delivery process.

(Further protection in the U.S. comes from the ECPA, of course, which
explicitly makes it illegal for a middleman to examine e-mail. How can they
screen e-mail for illegal words if they are forbidden to look?)

--Tim May

There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws.
Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay at  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1398269     | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."

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