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German Tor nodes seized -- Wo ist meine Zwiebel Router?

posted by:James Muir // 01:27 PM // September 11, 2006 // General

Back at the last project team meeting, I spoke about IP-geolocation technology and the related subject of how an end-user might conceal their IP address while surfing the Internet. A particular topic I mentioned was the experimental anonymizing network Tor (The onion router).

Tor is a practical, functioning network of about 800 volunteer servers (or nodes) which anyone can use to tunnel their Internet traffic through. The volunteer servers are contributed by various end-users and institutions in different countries throughout the world. Because of its practicality and use, there are a number of pertinent interdisciplinary questions (technological, legal, philosophical) that we can ask about Tor.

One question I suggested some time ago was the following: What are the potential legal consequences or risks of participating in the Tor network for Canadian citizens or institutions? The Tor web page has a Legal FAQ which gives some good background on this topic, but its not clear how the answers to those questions might change for Canadian citizens. Note that at least one Canadian university has decided against participating in the Tor network because of the legal risks they perceived.

Some recent reports have appeared that motivate the above question even more. Germany authorities have seized a number of Tor-nodes (more precisely, Tor exit-nodes) during an investigation related to child pornography; see the links below.

Other than having your computer temporarily seized, I wonder if there anything else that the owner of a volunteer Tor-node needs to worry about.



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