[Mailman-Users] Privacy and Headers

Brad Knowles brad at stop.mail-abuse.org
Mon Aug 15 21:37:13 CEST 2005

At 6:18 PM +0100 2005-08-15, R J Ladyman wrote:

>  The headers expose the sender address and domain (the message-ID does the
>  latter, of course), which makes the 'hide sender...' option a bit confusing.
>  I must have misunderstood the thinking behind the "Hide the sender of a
>  message...." and the related privacy settings - could you explain them?

	It only modifies the headers which are directly related to the 
sender's identity.  I'd have to check the code, but it could be as 
simple as only touching the "From:" header, or it might be a bit more 
intelligent and also modify the "Sender:" header, and possibly also 
the "Return-Path:", and maybe all the related "X-" and "Original-" 
headers that also correspond.

	However, without looking at the code, I suspect it's just the 
"From:" header.

>  (I was hoping that it would also mean that users wouldn't be able to reply
>  privately to each other, because the messages' provenances would be totally
>  hidden.)

	There is nothing on Earth that you can do to keep the users from 
privately replying to each other.  Even if you force them all to use 
your proprietary anonymizing mail system, they could still reply to 
each other privately.  Even if you force them to access everything 
through your proprietary web interface, they could always cut-n-paste 
information from the headers into a new message.

	There is nothing you can do to stop a truly determined user who 
wants to reply privately to another user.

>  Could you give me some pointers to the relevant Mailman files I would need to
>  modify for the changes you suggested? Note that I'm not worried about
>  preserving threading, or more correctly, the anonymisation requirement
>  outweighs that of threading.

	I'm not a programmer, so I can't give you a whole lot in the way 
of details.  However, based solely on my knowledge of the 
complexities of Internet e-mail, I can tell you that the whole issue 
of anonymity in e-mail is a much, much harder nut to crack than most 
anyone ever gives it credit for.

>  The anonymity is neither related to authorities nor paranoia, it's a user
>  requirement based on what they were previously using.

	Then you might want to look at the code of what they were 
previously using, and see how that compares to the Python code 
currently in Mailman.

Brad Knowles, <brad at stop.mail-abuse.org>

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little
temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

     -- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), reply of the Pennsylvania
     Assembly to the Governor, November 11, 1755

   SAGE member since 1995.  See <http://www.sage.org/> for more info.

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