Rod Beck Rod.Beck at
Wed Jun 24 21:57:27 UTC 2009

Hi Richard, 

It is a more complicated issue than that. 

There is a long established legal tradition that telecommunication transport is not liable for the content it transmits. It's called common carrier. If someone makes an obscene phone call, the phone company cannot be held liable. Yes, if the client subsequently complains and asks for that number to be blocked and the phone company does nothing, that's different. 

But the general principle is that anyone who transmits bits is not liable for content. 

Unfortunately in my personal view that principle never got established in the Layer 3 world. 

So we now have governments trying to use ISPs as censors, regulators, and enforcers of public policy. 

There may be some cases such as spamming where the ISPs have to take some responsibility, but it is really hard to find an appealing principle that articulates what should and should not be the ISP's responsibility. 

Roderick S. Beck 
Director of European Sales 
Hibernia Atlantic 
13-15, rue Sedaine, 75011 Paris 
Wireless: 33+6+8692+5357. 
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rod.beck at 
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 ``Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.'' Albert Einstein. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard A Steenbergen [mailto:ras at]
Sent: Wed 6/24/2009 10:41 PM
To: Randy Bush
Cc: NANOG list
Subject: Re: tor
On Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 12:43:15PM -0700, Randy Bush wrote:
> sadly, naively turning up tor to help folk who wish to be anonymous in
> hard times gets one a lot of assertive email from self-important people
> who wear formal clothes.
> folk who learn this the hard way may find a pointer passed to me by smb
> helpful, <>.

If bittorrent of copyrighted material is the most illegal thing you
helped facilitate while running tor, and all you got was an assertive
e-mail because of it, you should consider yourself extremely lucky. 

Anonymity against privacy invasion and for political causes sure sounds
like a great concept, but in reality it presents too tempting a target
for abuse. If you choose to open up your internet connection to anyone
who wants to use it, you should be prepared to be held accountable for
what those anonymous people do with it. I'm sure you don't just sell 
transit to any spammer who comes along without researching them a little 
first, why should this be any different?

Richard A Steenbergen <ras at>
GPG Key ID: 0xF8B12CBC (7535 7F59 8204 ED1F CC1C 53AF 4C41 5ECA F8B1 2CBC)

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