Can internet privacy be restored?

Novel solution from privacy pioneer creates controversy.

From The Rebel Media:

At Backchannel, Chaum explains why our communications are not nearly as anonymous as we think. Much of his account will interest only the specialist, but here is the skinny:

If surveillance agencies can get hold of “metadata” or “traffic analysis,” that is, who you are communicating with, the size of the file, when sent, etc., they probably already know a great deal about you. They can archive your posts for later search as needed.

He argues that, for restoring privacy,

There is only one practical and effective way that I know of. Messages from users must be padded to be uniform in size and combined into relatively large “batches,” then shuffled by some trustworthy means, with the resulting items of the randomly ordered output batch then distributed to their respective destinations. (Technically, decryption needs to be included in the shuffling.) Shortcuts to this provide a honeypot trap for the unwary. For instance, any system that has varied message sizes, like web pages, no matter the choice of computers that messages are routed through, is transparent to traffic analysis with the full take; systems where the timing of messages is not hidden by large batches are similarly ineffective.

Put simply:

If it is impossible to find out who we are communicating with, when, and at what length, we may be just as anonymous on the internet as strangers chatting, unrecorded, in a checkout lineup.

But nine governments must police it.

Reality check: Great idea; fat chance. But worth knowing about.

See also: From Forbes: Internet losing freedom of speech