This is a really old copy of the FAQ which has probably been updated several times since June ’95.
Frequently Asked Questions List for Alt.Sexual.Abuse.Recovery
This is a list of regularly discussed topics on alt.sexual.abuse.recovery (hereafter ASAR), issues relating to healing from abuse and resources you can access on the internet and elsewhere. Suggested ways of posting and general behavior are outlined. ASAR is completely unmoderated and was concived of as a psychological support/recovery newsgroup before the alt.support.* hierarchy existed.
It is the compiled work of many contributors to ASAR.
1.1) What is ASAR?
As the name suggests, ASAR is a public forum on recovery from all types of sexual abuse, including rape experienced by adults as well as by children. It is frequented by both males and females, and is accessible to everyone, including supporters, health care professionals, perpetrators, and the general public. The cast of readers and authors changes constantly. Recently discussed topics include self-inflicted violence, multiple personalities, confronting/naming perpetrators, dealing with the holidays, explaining oneself to prying members of the general public, self-defense, nightmares, etc.
1.2) Anonymous Posting Services.
For those who are not comfortable enough dealing with their abuse to post using their real name, there are anonymous posting services. These allow you to post to ASAR (or other newsgroups) and send mail to other anonymous people without ever revealing your real address or identity to them.
1.2.1) What is an APS?
An anonymous posting service (APS) is a special piece of software for processing mail sent to special addresses. In general, an APS receives a piece of mail, replaces any identifying information from the mail header with your anonymous identifier, and then posts the anonymized message to Usenet. Some APS’s can also send anonymous mail to other users of that APS. Not all APS’s work the same way. Most have at least minor operational differences from each other. But in general, the above things are true about them.
1.2.2) How secure is an APS?
A very valid question is “how secure is an APS?” The answer is, ultimately, not 100% secure. For even the best APS’s, there is usually some way for the APS’s administrator or the superuser of that system to find out what real address corresponds with what anonymous address. However, in general people not on the site that the APS runs on have no way of finding this out. Most APS’s have to maintain a list of anonymous id’s and real address pairs, so that when a message comes in, it knows what anonymous name to put in the header for the post to Usenet. All APS’s which provide anonymous mail services have to have such a list because the APS ultimately needs to know what the address of the recipient is. The APS administrator has access to this list, and can read it. The superuser of the system the APS is on can also read this list.
E-mail itself isn’t very secure, either. Anyone with superuser privileges on any machine the mail has to go through to get to the APS could theoretically read the temporary files created by the mail server on their machine while it processes your mail.
In general, one can never protect one’s self from the superuser of a system. However, system administrators are generally honest and respectable people, who have a vested interest in the integrity of their systems. It is rare, although not unheard of, for system administrators to abuse their powers to read people’s e-mail. Everyone must decide for themselves whether or not they can trust their local system administrators, and whether they can trust the people who run the APS they use.
The only way to protect yourself from the insecurities of e-mail is to use an APS which can process some form of encrypted mail. There is at least one APS which does this. Using this feature, however, requires more technical expertise on your end than using a non-encrypted APS.
So the answer is, no APS is completely secure. However, for a well built APS, the APS’s administrator and the superuser of the system would have to go through a lot of trouble to find out what real address corresponds with a particular anonymous ID. So if you are having concerns like that about the people who run the APS you use, you can always switch to using another one.