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Imagine a message exchange system where every actor publicly exposes his identity. In such a system, Alice wants to exchange messages with an entity run by Bob, but neither Alice nor Bob wants to expose their identities to each other. Here comes Charlie, the intermediate. Bob has engaged him to represent the entity, and his duty is to anonymize messages in both directions while still keeping track of message threads.

Thus, Charlie becomes the only actor who knows the real identities of Alice and Bob, allowing them to exchange messages anonymously. However, Alice and Bob must trust that he doesn't expose their identities to the other party.

Now, the question is, is it possible to build trustless anonymity in such a system? Can Alice and Bob get a proof that their messages are indeed anonymized?

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  • $\begingroup$ You probably can't provide both anonymity and authenticity in such a setting, i.e. anyone could pretend to be Alice or Bob. Note that this is what onion routing tries to achieve by having multiple intermediary nodes and only trusting that one of them behaves honestly. $\endgroup$
    – lamontap
    Commented Apr 3 at 13:46

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