Johan Helsingius

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Johan "Julf" Helsingius, born in 1961 in Helsinki, Finland, started and ran the internet remailer. was one of the most popular Internet remailers, handling 10,000 messages a day. The server was the first of its kind to use a password-protected PO box system for sending and receiving e-mails. In the 1980s, he was the system administrator for the central Finnish news node as well as one of the founding members of the Finnish UNIX User Group.

In February 1995, the Church of Scientology called in Interpol and Finnish prosecutors in order to learn the real identity of Penet user an144108 -- an online critic of Scientology. Pressured by possible police measures which would have meant disclosing not one but all of the registered names in the database, Helsingius revealed the identity of the person Scientology was looking for.[citation needed] One year later, on August 30, 1996, he announced his remailer would shut down.

The American Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an Internet civil rights initiative, reported continuously on the incidents concerning The EFF collected donations to cover legal costs should Helsingius be involved in a court case to settle whether Finnish law could force him to reveal the identity of users.

The closing down of led to an outbreak of outrage and solidarity with Helsingius throughout the Internet in order to protect freedom on the Internet.[1]

Helsingius went on to help found EUnet in Finland and was part of the team of people that established the first Internet link to a Soviet country. Later, when EUnet was acquired by Qwest Communications and soon after moved into KPNQwest, Qwest's joint venture with KPN International, Julf became Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for KPNQwest. He is now an Internet entrepreneur and is serving on the board of various companies (e.g. BaseN, which is based in Finland). Helsingius lives in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Helsingius has studied music and traveled widely. His interests include active sports, like mountain climbing, and aviation.


  1. ^ QUITTNER, Joshua (September 16, 1996), "REQUIEM FOR A GO-BETWEEN",