Mikus Grinbergs wrote:

> The first problem that comes to mind is that there is NO GUARANTEE
> WHATSOEVER of delivery of email.  Email messages can be mis-routed,
> accidentally deleted, even destroyed deliberately when a resource
> overload occurs.

There are plenty of protocols for ensuring delivery, but most only
assure delivery to a particular machine, not that the message is
actually read by the intended recipient.

> The internet mail mavens _are_ working on mechanisms to "notify" of
> delivery of email.  But that will require changes to the existing
> email software, both at the receiving end and at the sending end.
> (And what if it is the "notification" that gets lost?)

This is a common problem in communications protocols.
Once a notification has been received and a confirmation that the
notification is received, if the protocol loses a later confirmation of
a confirmation, both ends still know that the message was sent and
received and that both ends know that it was sent and received.

> p.s.  The second problem is that it is trivial to create a "fake"
>       email message.  Unless unbreakable "authentication" is used,
>       the recipient doesn't actually know _who_ composed it.

One could say exactly the same about paper documents. How do you know
that a standard letter was sent by the person claiming to have sent it?
In actual fact, potentially e-mail can be more reliable than paper
documents if double encryption with sender and recipient public and
private keys is used (the normal method for ensuring either the origin
or the destination or both of e-mail).

That is why courts generally require extra evidence of the history of a
document before admitting it into evidence. The question to determine is
what standard is appropriate for e-mail? Is there a level of encryption
that is sufficiently strong to remove the need to put someone in the
stand to confirm the origin of the e-mail?

| Tim Arnold-Moore, LL.B., B.Sc. (Hons)
| Postal address:  Multimedia Database Systems, RMIT
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|       simul iustus et peccator