Hushmail.com is a web based email service that prides itself on security and by extension, anonymity. They allow you to create regular accounts, but also allow the creation of auto-generated accounts with no personal information stored whatsoever. Further, unlike other webmail services, they do NOT include any IP address information in outgoing mail, meaning the recipient cannot trace the mail to the sender. This opens hushmail up to the possibility of being exploited by dumbasses who want to piss someone off without being found. On the other hand, it makes them one of the most valuable resources on the internet. The deciding factor is just whether the users are dumbasses or not, please try not to be a dumbass.
To demonstrate that they include no personal information, I sent myself an email with the account I created for this purpose, here are the full contents of that email, including all mail headers (where IP address and other information is normally stored):
Received: from mail4.hushmail.com ([126.96.36.199]) by psych.utoronto.ca (8.8.8/8.8.8) with ESMTP id RAA05603 for
<email@example.com>; Fri, 5 Nov 1999 17:05:03 -0500 (EST)
(from root@localhost) by mail4.hushmail.com (8.8.7/8.8.7) id NAA11445; Fri, 5 Nov 1999 13:55:23 -0800
Fri, 5 Nov 1999 17:04:11 -0500 (EST)
this is a test
Get HushMail. The world's first free, fully encrypted, web-based email system.
Speak freely with HushMail.... http://www.hushmail.com
Tada! No personal info whatsoever. Of course, it mentions my email address, but only because I was the recipient of this particular email, no personal info about the SENDER, firstname.lastname@example.org, is included. The only remaining trick is to get as many people familiar with how to use it as possible, so here's all the information you need:
email address: email@example.com
That's it. Just go to hushmail's main page, give em that login, and that passphrase, and you're in. Any mail you send will be anonymous, but moreover, even if you never use it, the fact that you know how ensures that mail other people send will be anonymous. You'll notice that I went and did the unthinkable - posted the password to a public web page. Of course I did! I *want* random strangers using this account. If the entire internet used this account regularly, it would guarantee total anonymity. A note though, by giving out this information, I risk having it fall into the hands of some dumbass who gets in, then changes the passphrase so no one else can use it. This accomplishes nothing, since the information here will work perfectly well with any other account too, since any reader could always create their OWN anonymous hushmail account, all it does is piss people off, and not much at that. Hope it doesn't happen.
I realized after I wrote this that there's an interesting process going on here. Call me a cognitive scientist if you must, but I can't help but notice something about this process that I haven't seen in many other parts of the universe - knowing something, without ever doing anything about it, or ever expressing that knowledge in any way, has an effect on the world. By knowing how to use this anonymity stuff, you add yourself to the list of possible senders for any message coming out of this account. Even if you never use it, your knowledge makes someone else more anonymous. Pardon my rant, but I think that's cool. :)