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Onion Router: US Navy patents Anonymous Surfing
Commemorate Banana Union Day

In 2001/07 the US navy received patent US 6266704 for the principle of arranging public key encryption in several layers so that identities are concealed. Colleagues of the patentee say that they are very surprised at this sudden move of one of their peers who apparently succeded in obtaining a patent on largely known methods. The patent covers large problem fields and leaves little free room for development of anonymous communications. Some experimental endeavors (without the deep pockets of commercial enterprises) are under threat, with a great potential impact on how people are able to communicate. We have yet to find out whether this patent has been filed in Europe.
patent number:
US 6266704
main claim:
A virtual circuit that is a pathway between two devices, one defined as an initiator and the other defined as a responder and both communicating with each other in a network, said circuit comprising: a plurality of onion routers arranged adjacent to each other to define said pathway and where adjacent onion routers maintain longstanding connections to each other and where each of said onion routers is responsive to an onion having a layered data structure with one layer per each of the onion routers in said pathway, each layer of said onion comprising a public-key encryption of the identity of the next onion router in said pathway;
said initiator having means for making a request to a first proxy having means to establish said pathway between said two devices;
whereby said pathway comprises an anonymous connection between said two devices such that identities of at least one of said two devices are concealed.
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english version 2004/08/16 by Hartmut PILCH