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

Owen DeLong owen at delong.com
Wed Dec 5 04:07:40 UTC 2012

On Dec 4, 2012, at 1:36 PM, Brian Johnson <bjohnson at drtel.com> wrote:

>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Owen DeLong [mailto:owen at delong.com]
>> Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2012 2:22 PM
>> To: Brian Johnson
>> Cc: Jordan Michaels; nanog at nanog.org
>> Subject: Re: William was raided for running a Tor exit node. Please help if
>> On Dec 4, 2012, at 09:32 , Brian Johnson <bjohnson at drtel.com> wrote:
>>> I know I'm going to get flamed and excoriated, but here goes....
>>> <snip>
>>>> case evolves in and out of court. Are Tor exit-node operators going to
>>>> be given the same rights as ISP's who's networks are used for illegal
>>>> purposes? I would hope so, but it doesn't seem like that has happened in
>>>> this case, so I am very interested to hear how the situation pans out.
>>> This is a misleading statement. ISP's (Common carriers) do not provide a
>> knowingly illegal offering, AND they do provide the PHYSICAL infrastructure
>> for packets to be passed and interconnected to other PHYSICAL networks.
>> TOR exit/entrance nodes provide only the former. The lack of providing a
>> physical infrastructure is crucial. Also, most ISP's (US specifically) are required
>> by Law (under subpoena) to provide details to law enforcement.
>> I strongly disagree with you.
>> TOR exit nodes provide a vital physical infrastructure to free speech
>> advocates who live in jurisdictions where strong forces are aligned against
>> free speech. I'm sure most TOR exit node operators would happily provide all
>> the details they have if presented with an appropriate subpoena.
> TOR is not vital. It is political. I view this not as an issue of morals or political action. It is an issue of a technical nature. A TOR is a way to hide who you are. If I am hiding who you are from someone else and there is a law broken, who do you go after?

Merely because something is political does not exclude it from being vital.

There are opportunities for free speech which would be diminished or eliminated if TOR were eliminated. As such, yes, it is, in fact a vital political tool.

It was a technical issue until people started having their civil rights potentially infringed. At that point, it became political and moral also.

If you are hiding who I am from someone else and I am breaking a law, I presume they would come to you asking (or even demanding) what you know about my identity. However, that's not what a TOR exit node does. The TOR exit node operator isn't hiding the identity of the sender. You can't hide what you never knew.

>>> I really hate this idea of privacy on the Internet. If you really think you have
>> the "right" to use the public infrastructure (to whatever extent you want to
>> label the Internet as such) and be completely anonymous, I have a bridge to
>> sell you. Network operators may treat your packets to whatever level of
>> scrutiny that they may find necessary to determine if they want to pass your
>> packets, keeping in mind that good operators want the Internet to work.
>> I really cherish this idea of privacy on the internet. It's a strong tool for
>> enabling democracy and freedom of speech.
>> First, the internet hasn't been "public infrastructure" for a very long time. It's
>> a loose collection of privately owned networks with very few pieces still
>> owned by government institutions. I don't think anyone has asserted a
>> "right" to use that infrastructure, but, I certainly value that there are people
>> who choose to provide it. I think society benefits from having such
>> infrastructure available.
>> I like free speech. I like that there are people making free speech possible in
>> places where it is strongly discouraged. While I think it is a shame that child
>> pornographers and other nefarious users are able to abuse this
>> infrastructure to the detriment of society, the reality is that it is like any other
>> tool. It has beneficial uses and harmful uses. Going after the tool is
>> counterproductive and harmful.
> This is ridiculous. Owen you damn well know that if you send packets from a source, that source can be tracked back. Add a subpoena, privacy hereby destroyed. Other countries are generally less protective of the citizen than the US and as such... what was your argument again. Oh yeah. I'll be hiding behind my packets. ;P

If you send packets from a source, they can be tracked back in some cases. However, if you send your packets to someone nearby, anyone outside of that path probably can't easily track them back. If they then rewrite the packets and forward them to another who repeats that process and this process is repeated a few times, then if the person attempting to do the track-back isn't aware of the packets until the very far end, it can, in fact, be virtually impossible to track them back to the originator. This, combined with some obfuscation of the actual content along the way and a lack of logging is basically how TOR works.

Providing an effective cloak of anonymity has repeatedly been shown to allow important political speech to be made public under circumstances when it otherwise would not have been able to. You may not like the other uses of TOR. I certainly don't like some of the uses that TOR has been put to. However, denying that TOR has, in fact, enabled improved freedom of speech in difficult environments ignores substantial evidence to the contrary.

>>> I'm waiting for the next hot "application" to use a widely known "bad" port
>> and see what happens. :)
>> What's a "bad" port? 80? 443? 25? 587? Most of the malware these days uses
>> one or more of those.
> Point given. I got off topic here.
>>>> It is extremely relevant to the Internet community and to free speech in
>>>> general.
>>> I'm actually in agreement that law enforcement may have overstepped
>> here if the only reason was the TOR exit point, but having a TOR exit point to
>> me, seems to be condoning the actions/statements/packets used through
>> the exit point. You are knowingly hiding information that your local
>> government may require you to disclose.
>> Having a TOR exit point is making an effort to provide a service. It doesn't
>> condone the nefarious uses of the service any more than running an ISP
>> condones running a warez site that happens to get transit services from said
>> ISP.
>> Running a TOR exit node isn't hiding any information. It's simply not collecting
>> the information in the first place. You can't hide information you never had.
> And supplying the Sudafed to the kiddies to use for runny noses is not condoning use for crystal meth.

Agreed. I think the current effort I have to go through as an adult to buy a simple OTC medication at a time when I'm already feeling like crap is ridiculous.

>>> Short answer... don't use TOR. It's not a bad thing, but it's not a good thing
>> either.
>> I strongly disagree. TOR is a tool. It's a very good thing in its ability to enable
>> democratization of communications and freedom of speech. It also has some
>> nefarious uses. Guess what... So do hammers. I don't see anyone calling for a
>> ban on the sale of hammers or encouraging carpenters to stop using them.
> Once again, this is a political reason not a technical reason. I'm sorry for your political situation.

Yes, this is a political reason. TOR is a technology that is important to solving a political problem. It isn't my personal political situation, but I have tremendous respect and admiration for those courageous enough to make use of it in political situations where it is important. I live in the US. In spite of the extent to which recent government actions have reduced civil liberties and ignore the constitution, they have not quite gotten to the point of eliminating free speech.

There's no technological problem with TOR. It works quite well.

There's no inherent political problem with TOR. There is a political problem with certain uses of TOR. There is a worse political problem with attempting to eliminate TOR just because there is a political problem with some uses of TOR.


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