gmail through SMTP without showing local IP to recipient?
October 8, 2008 3:24 AM   Subscribe

when emailing from the gmail web interface then the users local IP is not included in the message source. But when emailing from gmail via SMTP ( smtp.gmail.com ) then the local IP is included in the source. Can I somehow stop that from happening?

Scenario: Someone wants to run a blog anonymously but still use a gmail adress for receiving email from readers and replying to such emails.

Can that be done using gmail through SMTP (using thunderbird or some similar program on the local computer) WITHOUT the email recipient getting the IP number of the local computer?

I did some testing. When emailing from the gmail web interface then the users local IP is not included in the message source. But When emailing from gmail via SMTP ( smtp.gmail.com ) then the local IP is included in the source. Can I somehow stop that from happening?

(note: in this thread http://ask.metafilter.com/30539/anonymize-email someone claims that gmail through SMTP strips identifying IP adresses but when testing I found that to not be the case)

(note2: I'm only asking for some way go achieve weak anonymity. If something illegal is done then authorities can probably still request the sender ip from gmail. But that is no problem because the actual scenario involves nothing illegal)
posted by nolnar to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Short of using an anonymizing proxy to connect to the SMTP server, I've not seen any way to make that happen.

If you want the anonymity, use the web interface.
posted by toomuchpete at 5:46 AM on October 8, 2008


Your problem is with the SMTP protocol, not with gmail per se, and you're going to have this problem with basically any kind of SMTP connection.

You might consider Tor for online anonymity. I haven't used it myself but I have friends who love it. Your local IP is unlikely to make a huge difference; the most people are going to be able to do is figure out your general metropolitan area, or which company you work for if you're emailing from work. (And if you're concerned about privacy, you probably shouldn't be emailing from work.)
posted by kdar at 5:55 AM on October 8, 2008


Your local IP is unlikely to make a huge difference

That depends on what the IP is.
posted by meta_eli at 6:35 AM on October 8, 2008


Yeah, you can't remove it. (Short of hacking in and reconfiguring Google's mailservers.) SMTP has them including all the 'hops' the mail traverses in the headers, and the first is your desktop -> their SMTP server. When you do it via a web browser, the message 'originates' from their server. (Though I think a few clients, like Outlook Web Access, will actually insert the client's IP in the headers...)

So you're stuck using the web interface, unless you use one of the above to channel mail through a proxy server or Tor.
posted by fogster at 8:20 AM on October 8, 2008


Thank you for the responses so far.

Follow up question: is there any large, free email provider that supports SMTP and that also strips away the local IP from the email source?

Hushmail claims to not include the local IP, but they do not explicitly say that it applies to SMTP usage: http://www.hushmail.com/help-faqs2#ipnuiamsendingfrom . (note: SMTP hushmail is not free.) Does anyone know more about that?

kdar: the drawbacks of having the local IP known might vary a lot. Let's bracket discussions of that and instead take the need to not display the local IP to the recipient as given.
posted by nolnar at 9:05 AM on October 8, 2008


Another way to do this -
  1. Install Python
  2. Install the Python libgmail library.
  3. Get "gmailsmtp.py" from the libgmail demos in the library repo.
  4. Run it and point your mail app at localhost (port 8025 by default)
The caveats are it may be against Google's TOS and the code is of course a demo and shouldn't be used for production. If you want to try it anyway though let us know how it works.
posted by sipher at 7:56 PM on October 8, 2008


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