International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Paper: Guarantees for Customers of Incentive Anonymizing Networks

Timothy Atkinson
Marius Silaghi
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Abstract: We raise and propose solutions to the problem of guaranteeing that a user of incentive remailing services for anonymization cannot lose money if he does not get full service, i.e., if his message does not reach its destination. Applications such as voting over the Internet or reviewing of articles require anonymous delivery of messages. An anonymizing technique was proposed several decades ago by Chaum and is based on a group of volunteer agents called {\em mixnet}. However, mixnets are not yet widely known and used today, and one often mentioned reason is the lack of incentives for volunteers. A recently proposed solution is based on adding digital coins to messages, such that each volunteer can extract only the digital coin designated as a payment for her. However, registered volunteers can sabotage the system by extracting and using their coins without performing their task --- which consists of forwarding anonymized messages. The main improvement we propose is to guarantee that no money is lost by the user without getting his message at the destination. This is an essential property for a viable service. Solutions described are based on handshaking mechanisms where each volunteer gets her payment (or key to decrypt the payment) from the agent to which she is expected to forward the message, or from the destination using a public board or a reply message. This ensures that a volunteer gets her financial support only if she fulfills her task. We discuss how techniques for non-repudiation of receipt of a message, together with reputation systems, can address the remaining problems.
  title={Guarantees for Customers of Incentive Anonymizing Networks},
  booktitle={IACR Eprint archive},
  keywords={cryptographic protocols / mix-nets remailers payments},
  note={ 13857 received 10 Dec 2007},
  author={Timothy Atkinson and Marius Silaghi},