Eternity Uncensorable?

John Kelsey kelsey at
Tue Aug 12 11:00:59 PDT 1997


[ To: cypherpunks at, Wei Dai ## Date: 08/08/97 10:37 pm ##
  Subject: Re: Eternity Uncensorable? ]

>Subject: Re: Eternity Uncensorable?
>To: Cypherpunks Lite <cp-lite at>
>From: Wei Dai <weidai at>
>Date: Wed, 06 Aug 1997 11:33:55 -0700 (PDT)

>I suggest using information dispersal to spread risk amongst
>remailer operators.  Use Rabin's information dispersal technique
>to divide up a document into n shares such that k of them can
>reconstruct the original, and post each share via a seperate
>remailer.  It would be hard for the government to single out an
>operator to go after since an individual share by itself is

I'm a little concerned with the usefulness of this idea in a
legal sense.  Imagine the physical analogue:  Alice buys the
guns and masks, and leaves them in a pre-arranged place.  Bob
anonymously buys a car and leaves it, with the keys inside, in
another pre-arranged place.  Carol and Dave collect the guns,
masks, and the car, and use them to rob a bank or hijack an
airplane.  Do you suppose the feds will have any problem
prosecuting Alice and Bob for their part in the conspiracy?

>If n>k this also increases reliability and resilience of the
>eternity service against technical attacks.

This part is somewhat more useful.  However, n copies of the
message are probably better.

I think the general problem here is unsolveable--running an
Eternity server is just going to be a dangerous thing to do if
you live somewhere where the police are likely to see
possessing, distributing, or selling some of the information on
it as a crime.  There are two possible solutions I can see:
Either make Eternity servers so widespread that taking down
individual servers in individual jurisdictions is futile, or
find some jurisdictions where virtually *nothing* will provoke
the police to act.  (Note that legal jurisdiction isn't the only
issue here.  Some groups may be willing to use terrorist tactics
to shut down these servers.)

Note:  Please respond via e-mail as well as or instead of posting,
as I get CP-LITE instead of the whole list.

   --John Kelsey, kelsey at
 PGP 2.6 fingerprint = 4FE2 F421 100F BB0A 03D1 FE06 A435 7E36

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   --John Kelsey, Counterpane Systems, kelsey at
 PGP 2.6 fingerprint = 4FE2 F421 100F BB0A 03D1 FE06 A435 7E36

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