William was raided for running a Tor exit node. Please help if

Naslund, Steve SNaslund at medline.com
Tue Dec 4 21:44:11 UTC 2012

Here is something else to consider :

Why will just about any ISP shut down a customer with an open mail
relay?  It allows anonymous access to anyone trying to send an email,
right.  So why would this not be considered just as "free speech" as the
Tor server.  The reason I believe is because we as an industry decided
that spam was a "bad thing" before it even became illegal.   In the case
of Tor, it largely enables anonymous transfer of data (like copyrighted
bit torrent traffic) including some content that is blatently illegal to
even possess.    As a community we have been a lot less decisive about
that subject.  

Before we chastise the legal process being used by the government just
consider everything we do as service providers under the guise of
"acceptable use" which has just about no basis in the law.  Most
"acceptable use" violations are basically doing stuff we don't like.   

As far as the Internet just being a tool, I agree but there are and
always have been laws to govern the use of tools whether we are talking
about telephones, guns, postal system, or any other tool.   Conducting
the alleged business over the telephone would be a crime just as sending
it through the postal system.  If you were encrypting voice calls for
the sole purpose of avoiding a legal wiretap I think the law might have
a problem with that.  If you were to provide that service to someone
like a kidnapper or the mafia, I bet you are going to have some tough
questions thrown at you.

As I see it, here are the possible reasons this individual set up this
Tor network :

1.  This man is truly the saint of the Internet privacy community and he
spent his own hard earned money to set up a bunch of off shore Tor
servers for the benefit of mankind.  Why he needs exit nodes in the
United States and Poland I am not sure about.  Is the German government
cracking down a lot on dissident traffic coming out of servers in his
own country?  He must not be able to pay his own legal expenses because
he is too busy building servers for the good of humanity.

2.  This guy was using Tor for whatever personal reasons.  Could be that
there were not enough exit nodes to get the kind of performance he
wanted.  Maybe he was downloading / uploading various content, legal or
illegal and was serious enough about it that he set up exit nodes in
multiple countries.  That might explain the ton of storage he had at his
residence.  Maybe he has a big recipe collection, pirated movie
collection, or unspeakable content the police are looking at now.  The
content will say if he is innocent or guilty.  Maybe he was using it for
one thing and others were using it for something else.  In that case, my
thoughts are if you swim with sharks you might get bit.

3.  Maybe this guy was running a Tor network as a paid service for
others not wanting to get caught doing whatever they were doing.   Could
be a lucrative business for an enterprising system admin I suppose.  You
would not want to set up these servers at your own workplace right, and
maybe you have customers in multiple countries.  Who might want a covert
communications network?  Drug cartels, media pirates, intelligence
agencies, terrorists, illegal child porn producers, whoever does not
want to get caught communicating.  Maybe even downtrodden dissidents but
they likely don't have a lot of money.  He is going to need your money
to defend himself because the government will gets suspicious if he
shows up with another safe deposit box of cash and his customer
certainly can't be contacted to help.

I see these possible outcomes :

1. The guy has nothing on his home computers or the Tor server that
point to a crime and he gets his stuff back.  Inconvenient no doubt but
he won't need that legal defense fund.

2.  Maybe this guy is as serious about his home gear as his network
privacy.  Maybe everything at home is deep encrypted.  Unlikely it will
be secure enough but maybe the government has its suspicions but cannot
make the case and they drop it.

2. The guy has tons of illegal content on his home storage stuff and
gets nailed for it.  That legal defense fund is going to be paying the
SPA, RIAA, or whoever else is going to sue him.  If it what the police
allege then he is going away for quite awhile.

3. The guy is innocent but gets found guilty because "the man" just does
not like Tor.   Your legal defense fund probably won't help much because
if "the man" wants him locked up with no evidence then your defense
probably won't help a lot.  You will be better off selling "Free Mother
Tor-esa" T-shirt to try to get him sprung.

I might be a cynic but I am just not thinking it is #1 on these lists.

Steven Naslund

-----Original Message-----
From: Valdis.Kletnieks at vt.edu [mailto:Valdis.Kletnieks at vt.edu] 
Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2012 1:36 PM
To: Brian Johnson
Cc: nanog at nanog.org
Subject: Re: William was raided for running a Tor exit node. Please help

On Tue, 04 Dec 2012 17:32:01 +0000, Brian Johnson said:

> This is a misleading statement. ISP's (Common carriers) do not provide

> a knowingly illegal offering, ... TOR  exit/entrance nodes provide
only the former.

This is also a misleading statement.  Explain the difference between a
consumer ISP selling you a cable Internet plan knowing that NN% of the
traffic will be data with questionable copyright status, and
1 of of 5 or so will be a botted box doing other illegal stuff, and a
TOR node providing transit knowing that NN% will be similarly
questionable etc etc etc.

In other words, if TOR exit nodes provide a "knowingly illegal
offering", then Comcast is doing exactly the same thing...

(Also, feel free to cite actual statute or case law that says TOR is by
*definition* or finding of fact, a "knowingly illegal offering" in and
of itself - distinct from what uses the user thereof may do with it.
Absent that, it's not  a "knowingly illegal offering" the same way that
some sites have ended up in court for contributory copyright

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