[Politech] Peter Trei on Postal Service, barcodes, and privacy [priv]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Fri Oct 31 2003 - 06:29:05 PST

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    From: "Trei, Peter" <ptrei@private>
    To: "'Declan McCullagh'" <declan@private>
    Subject: RE: [Politech] Replies to U.S. Postal Service dislikes anonymous
    	mail [fs][priv]
    Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2003 10:05:58 -0500
     > From: Robert Moskowitz <rgm-int@htt-consult.com>
     > Have you given any thought to what it would take to really have this work?
     > Everyone would need a tempus-class mail signer that had a digital cert
     > from
     > some trusted root.
     > They would have to put a unique number on the mailing (160 bits, probably)
     > and then use the signer to create a digital sig of that number and this
     > would also be on the mail.
     > Just about anything else could be forged.
     > Nah, even this really doesn't work.  The PO would have to keep a log of
     > all
     > these numbers and make sure they were never reused, to avoid spoofing of
     > even them.....
     > So ANYTHING they do is just window-dressing and a money sink.
     > From: Stephen Cobb <scobb@private>
    Nah - all they have to do is put barcodes on stamps, and scan each
    sheet before they hand it to you. Then, they can track back to you
    trivially if you used a credit card, and with somewhat greater difficulty
    (think time stamped logs and security camera records) if you used
    The system doesnt have to be perfect if its real goal is social control
    rather than defeating careful, thoughtful opponents.
     > FYI
     > A back-door form of sender identification has already been put in place
     > for
     > packages. You are not supposed to put Priority Mail packages over one
     > pound
     > into mailboxes without a post office metered stamp.
     > This is not a trivial regulation. This particular variation on postal
     > stupidity ruins the otherwise bright idea of fixed rate Priority Mail.
     > Used
     > to be, if the stuff you were mailing fit into the pre-printed Priority
     > Mail
     > envelope you could slap $3.85 on the thing and drop it in a box, pretty
     > much regardless of weight. Quick and easy. But apparently, like my nail
     > clippers, a threat to national security.
     > Stephen
    You can blame the Unabomber for this one. One single (rather ineffective)
    mailbomber, long safely locked away, and we lose another chunk of privacy,
    probably forever.
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