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Re: legal question about certs

>I think the subpoena cert is a wonderful idea.

I loved the idea too, at first, but upon reflection, I would like to
refine it somewhat and propose a different name for such certificates.

As originally proposed, I'm not convinced that subpoena certificates
would be widely used.  If Supplier A requires a subpoena certificate, but
Supplier B does not, then why would a consumer choose to do business with
Supplier A?  Conversely, if Supplier A presents a subpoena certificate,
but Supplier B has better prices, do you think many people will place
their orders with Supplier A?

Moreover, in an age when everyone already wants to shoot the lawyers, do
we really want to
 make filing a lawsuit the preferred approach for contacting someone with
whom we once did business?  My view is that any method of conflict
resolution which involves serving a subpoena should truly be a
 last resort.

If I order a red widget from The Widget Gallery, and they erroneously
 ship me a yellow one, I need their phone number or E-mail address, not
their subpoena certificate.  And if they accidentally bill my credit card
twice, or realize that they shipped a batch of defective widgets and must
initiate a recall, then they need *my* phone number or E-mail address, to
apologize and let me know how they plan to correct the problem.

It would help if the subpoena CA (presumably run by one of several
 commercial vendors) also operated a mail relay service, so that users
could contact one another informally to work out their differences before
escalating to formal legal channels.  That doesn't necessarily prevent
Widget Gallery from sending me junk E-mail or building a dossier, but
perhaps I could use a different subpoena certificate (and hence a
different anonymous E-mail relay address) for each transaction.  The
relay service could limit its anonymous forwarding to two messages per
subpoena certificate, with some provision that Widget Gallery could send
me additonal messages in unusual circumstances by contacting the managers
of my chosen subpoena CA to explain the situation or pay a hefty fee.

Optionally, the relay service could keep copies of any correspondence it
forwards.  This would be useful in catching abusers (like those who use
the service to send unsolicited advertising), and also would help to lay
the groundwork for an eventual lawsuit in the unlikely event that one
becomes necessary.  Having the relay service (a neutral third party)
retain dated copies of all correspondence would keep the other parties
honest about who said what when, while relieving them from the burden of
keeping notarized copies of routine correspondence just in case relevant
litigation ever arises.

I suggest the name "callback certificate", rather than "subpoena
recognizing that 98% of the time, disputes can be resolved by simply
calling the other party back to discuss the situation.

      - Mark