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People For Internet Responsibility (PFIR) co-founders Lauren Weinstein and
Peter G. Neumann today called on the Internet and Open-Source Communities to
consider a proposal for the most significant and far-reaching changes to
e-mail systems since the creation of the Internet and its ancestor ARPANET
more than 30 years ago.
PFIR today released a white paper describing a proposed project to consider the implementation and deployment of widespread encryption, authentication, anti-spam, and other advances directly into the fundamental structure of Internet, intranet, and local e-mail systems.
The "TRIPOLI" project overview paper located at:
describes the proposed new environment which focuses on ensuring that choices and power regarding e-mail are vested directly with e-mail users themselves, rather than with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or government agencies.
The changes described by the TRIPOLI proposal could be gradually implemented, largely based upon open-source software tools that already exist. Ultimately under TRIPOLI, the volumes of forgeries and spam (both received by users and traversing the Internet) would be drastically reduced, by default all e-mail would be encrypted, and e-mail users would have essentially complete control over how they individually choose to send and receive e-mail.
"Current e-mail systems were not designed to deal with the kind of world we have today -- they've become a hopeless nightmare for users and ISPs alike," said Weinstein. "E-mail users are inundated with spam, forged mail, and other garbage, and unfortunately the actions many ISPs are taking to try control spam and other e-mail are shackling their honest customers with unreasonable restrictions and making matters even worse. Some of the proposed anti-spam laws may also exacerbate these problems without really controlling spam at all. Legitimate e-mail users need to be put back in the driver's seat, and there isn't a moment to lose."
"These problems are getting more severe every day," said Neumann. "Not only are users and networks drowning under spam and other e-mail deficiencies, but basic matters of security and reliability on the Internet are being largely ignored under the current intolerable situation. These critical problems simply cannot be fixed without coordinated and major changes to the way e-mail is handled throughout the Internet. It's going to be a big job, but we have to get going on this right now."
PFIR hopes that the TRIPOLI proposal can act as a starting point for discussion and implementation of systems to solve the many e-mail problems that exist today, in a manner that empowers users rather than unfairly restricting them. PFIR invites the participation of the open-source and Internet communities at large towards these crucial goals.
Persons interested in participating or getting more information about the TRIPOLI project can send e-mail to:
or use the contacts listed below.
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Peter G. Neumann