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Penet remailer

The Penet remailer was a pseudonymous remailer operated by Johan Helsingius[?] of Finland from 1993 to 1996. It offered Internet users the ability to shield their identities and post anonymous messages to Usenet newsgroups. One of the first remailers, the Penet remailer was very popular, and it had a wide following, as well as a large number of critics.

Several times, Helsingius was contacted by various people and individuals who wanted him to reveal the identities of certain people using the remailer to post anonymous messages. He was contacted once by the government of Singapore, as part of an effort to discover who was posting messages critical of the nation's government.

Helsingius refused all requests to reveal the identities of the users of his remailer, until Scientology used the legal system to force him to reveal the identity of one person who had posted a Scientology document to the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology in January of 1995. As part of its campaign against Internet users, Scientology obtained a court order, and police arrived at Helsingius' residence to seize the remailer. Initially he was asked to turn over the identities of all users of his remailer (which numbered over 300,000 at the time), but he managed to compromise and reveal only the single user being sought by Scientology.

At the same time this mishap took place, a major British newspaper published an article accusing the Penet[?] remailer of being used to post child pornography anonymously to Usenet newsgroups. This claim was proven to be false, because the remailer had an upper limit to the size of a file that could be posted through it. (The vast majority of picture files are larger than the limit imposed by the remailer.)

Helsingius successfully defended his remailer in court against Scientology's further attempts to obtain the identities of its users, but he felt that the legal system in his native country was not able to provide adequate protection against further legal attacks. In response, he closed the remailer in September of 1996.

External Link

Penet home page (http://www.penet.fi/) (sponsored by Johan Helsingius)

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