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Allow hidden (BCCed) email recipients who know each other to see each other Disclosure Number: IPCOM000211540D
Publication Date: 2011-Oct-11
Document File: 3 page(s) / 37K

Publishing Venue

The Prior Art Database


Disclosed is a system applied to email applications which allows recipients, as members of a blind carbon-copied (BCC) group, to view the names of the other recipients that they know. The system uses a number of ways to determine whether members in a BCC group know one another.

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Allow hidden (BCCed) email recipients who know each other to see each other

When sending an email to a large group of recipients, the sender often blind carbon-copies (BCCs) all the recipients. This is so that everyone will not be able to see the large list of email addresses of others and to avoid people from being spammed. However, this has some disadvantages:

• People will not be able to see who else was emailed

• If a recipient wants to reply to the group, they are unable, as the recipient list is hidden

• The recipient may forward that email to their friends, not knowing who has already been emailed, and people may receive duplicates of the email

What is needed is a way for people who know each other to be able to see each other as recipients in the email. Currently in email, there is no way to allow recipients to only see other recipients that he knows and to hide the recipients that he does not know (for each recipient.)

A prior art search did not find anything that covered the same inventive idea as discussed here. This capability is not evident in other messaging products. One related prior art protects the identity of email recipients, such as blind carbon-copied, in encrypted email messages. ( It is different from the disclosed idea, but could be used as enabling art for the invention.

With the disclosed invention, when a user sends an email (or other message type) to multiple (BCC'ed) recipients, the sender can choose a setting "Allow recipients to see only the people he knows." On the server-side, this invention analyzes the listed recipients and hides the names/email addresses of those who do not know each other while allowing those who do know each other to be able to see each other's information. This invention uses encryption to perform the hiding, and can take advantage of an existing trusted social networking application (or other application) to determine who knows whom.

Because the analysis is performed on the server-side, no information about who knows whom is revealed to the sender. This solution addresses the previously listed disadvantages while still allowing the sender to hide the information of users who do not know each other.

The components and processes of the disclosed invention are:

1. The email sender chooses whether they want to recipients who know each other to be able to see each other (even though

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they may be BCC'ed)

2. On the server-side, the system uses data accessible by the server (e.g., email addresses saved in the user's address book, email inbox, past email history, and social network data, etc.) to identify the email recipients added in the BCC list, and to determine who knows whom, or who can see whom

3. On the server-side, the system creates a customized list for each recipient which contains those people that the recipient knows. Each list is encrypted for the corr...