Crypto Santa, Onion Gift Wrapping and Postal Remailing

Today I’m releasing the first public beta of Crypto Santa.

It’s planner for organizing Secret Santas that scrambles your list of participants, providing instructions for each person to wrap their present three extra times, making it difficult to find out who is giving gifts to who. Anonymity through Onion Wrapping!

I was thinking about onion routing and old-school postal remailing services and, well, it being nearly christmas, Secret Santas

Onion routing is the technique Tor uses to anonymize web browsing. Postal remailler’s are services that would accept mail and then forward it to another address. There are many reason’s these are used, especially remaining anonymous, when you don’t want the received to know who the sender is, and perhaps if you’re in country where a vender refused to deliver, due to their own delivery policy or export regulations.

I quickly realized that Secret Santas where a great opportunity to get people to talk about, well, secrecy, or more to the point privacy and anonymity. Crypto Santa is a Secret Santa for the post-Snowden era. Before I knew it, I was madly coding the site and getting my colleagues to help with graphics, copy, testing, cramming to get the site ready for Christmas, and viola, here it is:

In addition to being a way to introduce questions of Internet privacy and surveillance to holiday parties, and helping people understand how Onion Routing works by doing it with wrapping paper, Crypto Santa plays with interesting possibilities.

What could be done in the future versions of Crypto Santa? Imagine if we added mailing addresses, and it was not just a party that met once, but a club of sorts, kind of like Mail Art communities, and imagine if recipients where not randomly chosen, but chosable by the sender. You would have a pretty interesting system of anonymous postal delivery. Of course, such a system should not be a centralized web-based system, but based on peer-peer software, like Tor is. It also be interesting to actually encode each label on each layer of wrapping so that only the addressee can decode the next address in the circuit. Today, Crypto Santa is just a great way to get people talking.

If you’re planning a secret santa with your friends, famility or colleagues, take it up a notch and try Crypto Santa! And spread the word, if we’re going to really find a solution for the issue of Internet surveillance we need people to get together and talk about it, especially where they normally wouldn’t, like for instance your office Christmas party!

It’s the first release, so expect bugs, when you encounter one, try refreshing the page, and please tell us about it. As well as types, copy errors and what new features we should add.

Today is Stammtisch, I’m Toronto, so I’ll be at The Cafe Pamenar at 307 Augusta Ave in Kensington Market, come and say hi!

Merry merry. Happy Crypto Santa!

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