> 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. Not only are there efficiency problems, detailed analysis of the security properties of real time anonymous networks have repeatedly shown that the degree of anonymity possible is very limited against a determined attacker. Careful insertion of packet delays and monitoring of corresponding network reactions allow an attacker to easily trace an encrypted communication through the nodes of the network. Effective real-time anonymity is almost a contradiction in terms. Despite these difficulties, file trading is still the usage area with the greatest potential for widespread adoption of anonymity. File traders are fickle and will gravitate rapidly to a new system if it offers significant benefits. If performance can be improved to at least approximate the transfer rates of non-anonymous networks, while allowing enough security to make the job of the content lawyers harder, that could be enough to give this technology the edge it needs to achieve widespread acceptance. CP