Email tapping by ISPs, forwarder addresses, and crypto proxies

Thomas Shaddack shaddack at
Tue Jul 6 14:15:06 PDT 2004

Reading some news about the email wiretapping by ISPs, and getting an 

There are various email forwarding services, which are nothing more than a 
SMTP server with pairs of recipient at -- 
recipient at

Messages in storage have much lower judicial protection than messages in 
transit. (This does not have much technical merit, in the current 
atmosphere of "damn the laws - there are terrorists around the corner", 
but can be seen as a nice little potential benefit.)

There can be an easy enhancement for such forwarder service; GnuPG proxy. 
Every email that arrives to the forwarder address, before it is forwarded 
to the real recipient, is piped through a GnuPG script; the recipient has 
then to upload his public key during the registration of the target 
address, otherwise the function is the same. For added benefit, the 
forwarder should support SMTP/TLS (STARTTLS) extension, so the connections 
from security-minded owners of their own mailservers would be protected.

The recipient himself then can either run his own mailserver and download 
mails through fetchmail, or receive mails using SMTP/ETRN (both methods 
allow automated decryption of such wrapped mail during its receiving), or 
use a POP/IMAP decryption proxy, or have a plugin in mail client.

(I know, auto-decryption is dangerous, but we now talk about the system 
for one's grandma, transparent to use.)

The only vulnerable parts of the mail route then will be the sender's 
computer, the pathway between the sender and the forwarder server (if 
SMTP/TLS is not used correctly or at all), the forwarder server (if 
compromised), and the recipient's computer. The way between the forwarder 
and the recipient's ISP, including the recipient's mailbox, is secured.

What do you think about this scheme?

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