Immortal, invisible, God only knows

By Mike Holderness, 10 September 2000

Another cloak and dagger tale of elusive file storage systems.

By the time this has been smeared on dead tree the UK’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers act will be old hat, but not yet resting in peace. Some new web law controversy will have blown up – perhaps MI5 arranging tax audits for everyone who visits renegade agent David Shayler’s website. Or capitalism as a whole suing to take down a future site called MetaSpotlight which would extend the McSpotlight project to the entire global market. Or...

So it’s timely to think about immortal web pages. The McSpotlight solution, which entails packages that phone home daily and unzip themselves into a mirror site if home disappears, is simple but not foolproof.

Fortunately, this is the kind of problem that cryptographers tackle for relaxation. Latest of the dozen or so results is Publius, cooked up by Marc Waldman at New York University with Lorrie Faith Cranor and Avi Rubin, who work for AT&T. Their proposal starts with the usual deeply mathematical discussion of ‘Bob’ sending a message to ‘Alice’ and concludes that if you volunteer to host a Publius server you can deny all knowledge of what content you’re hosting.

Mike Holderness <mikeh AT> Anderson’s Eternity proposal