TAZ servers and the rewebber network: Enabling anonymous publishing on the world wide web

作者:Ian Goldberg,David Wagner



Recently the Internet has seen tremendous growth, with the ranks of new users swelling at ever-increasing rates. This expansion has catapulted it from the realm of academic research towards new-found mainstream acceptance and increased social relevance for the everyday individual. Yet with this suddenly increased reliance on the Internet comes the threat that freedoms previously enjoyed may be overlooked in the online realm.

The World Wide Web (WWW) has recently grown in importance to become perhaps the most important Internet application today. The WWW enables the ordinary citizen to reach an audience potentially as large as millions. In short, this technology gives us an extremely cheap publishing mechanism: printing presses for the masses.

Yet we must not forget that anonymous publishers have played an important role throughout the history of publication. Freedom of anonymous speech is an essential component of free speech, and freedom of speech is a critical part of any healthy democracy. For instance, the United States Supreme Court has consistently upheld protection for anonymous publication of political speech. As Justice Stevens wrote in the McIntyre v Ohio Election Commission majority opinion,

Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent. Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.

We should be careful not to forget the importance of anonymous speech as we move to an increasingly WWW-centric paradigm of communication.

Today the WWW includes little support for anonymous publishing. The current WWW architecture fundamentally includes identity information in the URL that is used to locate published documents, and it is very hard for a WWW publisher to avoid revealing this information. To address these limitations, we would like to build technology to enable anonymous publishing on the World Wide Web.