FWD: Helsingius shuts down anon.penet.fi server in Finland

Rohit Khare (khare@w3.org)
Wed, 4 Sep 1996 12:12:41 -0400 (EDT)

More info....

Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 13:11:56 -0500
From: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>

This is a sad day in the history of the Net. Hundreds of thousands of
people had accounts on Julf's pseudonmyous server and many netizens relied
on it daily to preserve their privacy online. (Unlike cypherpunk remailers,
it's not truly anonymous since Julf keeps records of what anon id maps to
what email address.) From Azeem's report and the press release below,
Julf's move seems to be in response to a Finnish court's preliminary
decision that the privacy remailers could be violated by court order --
something the Scientologists have been pushing.

Still, I'd be surprised if Julf's decision wasn't prompted in part by the
hideous London Observer article that falsely accused him of being a
middleman in the distribution of child porn -- check out a scan of the
Sunday cover at:


Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 17:11:51 +0100
From: Azeem Azhar <azeem@dial.pipex.com>
Subject: [ALERT] Penet is dead

Hello all,

I just got off the phone with Johann Helsingius who runs the
anon.penet.fi anonymous e-mail service.

1. He has decided to close the service.

2. This is not related to the article in The Observer. It is, in fact,
due to a decision of a lower Finnish court on petition from the Church
of Scientology. Penet went to court last week and made the decision
today. The implication of the decision is that e-mail over the Internet
is not protect by the usual Finnish privacy laws.

3. The server is currently down while Julf re-writes the software. Once
it runs again, it will be phased out for private use, but groups such as
the Samaritans and human rights agencies should be able to use it.

4. They are appealing against the decision.

5. Julf expects that revisions in Finnish law to provide a safe legal
status for anonymous remailers will be in place at the earliest in
Spring next year.

6. Once again: this is unrelated to The Observer's scandalous reporting.

Your faithful furry friend,