Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

12.13. How do I send e-mail anonymously? How can I post to the Usenet anonymously?

If you've read the chapters on electronic mail and the Usenet, you know that every e-mail message has an envelope of sorts, which tells who it is to, what it is about, and who it is from. What if you don't want the world to know that you sent that e-mail or Usenet news post? Can you prowl around the Internet incognito? The answer is yes. Using a tool called an anonymous mail server (remailer) you can hide your identity when sending e-mail and Usenet messages.

How do anonymous remailers work? Instead of sending your message directly to its destination, you send it to the remailer. The server will strip off your message's headers and signature, tack on a unique (but anonymous) identification code, and mail it to your intended recipient. Although the recipient will see the message is from an anonymous remailer, he can't know the sender's true identity. If the recipient replies, his message will go to the anonymous mail server, which will redirect the message to you while protecting the sender's identity.

There is an server at that can help you anonymously send e-mail and post to the Usenet. Other anonymous mail servers exist, and they all tend to come and go frequently. I have a list of others here, but many of these services are experimental, unstable, or won't exist any longer by the time this book hits your hot hands. However, the server has been operational and stable for several months.'s anonymous Usenet posting service works in a similar way; sending mail to will post your message to the Usenet group sans your name and e-mail address. It will include your own anonymous alias, however, which people can use to reply to you.

For complete information on using the anonymous mail and Usenet posting service, send a message to You will receive a document via electronic mail explaining the details. (Incidentally, you can also send mail to or if you want your help in German or Italian.) Be prepared to wait as long as 24 hours to receive a reply. One of penet's failings, because it's one of the few stable anonymous remailers, is that it's heavily overloaded.

Matthew Ghio maintains a FAQ on the anonymous remailers, which lists over a dozen alternative anonymous services. He says that many of them are much faster than because they do not have such a heavy load. You can get the information by sending mail (any subject line/any message body) to

Take care when posting anonymously. Your anonymity and privacy can never be guaranteed. Anonymous services have their pros and cons, but like them or not, they're here to stay.

Also, read the "Anonymity on the Internet" FAQ. This is a lengthy FAQ list--nearly 100 printed pages--rife with information, lore, and opinions about anonymous mailing services. The first thing covered in this FAQ is a current list of operational anonymous mail services. The document is available via anonymous FTP,*
and on the Usenet newsgroups alt.privacy and news.answers.

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