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German TOR Servers Seized 427

mrogers writes "Servers participating in the TOR anonymizing network have been seized by public prosecutors during a child porn crackdown in Germany. TOR provides anonymity for clients and servers by redirecting traffic through a network of volunteer-operated relays; the German prosecutors may have been trying to locate an anonymous server by examining the logs of the captured relays."
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German TOR Servers Seized

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  • legal basis (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IAR80 ( 598046 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @08:42AM (#16080174) Homepage
    On what legal basis?

    --- 693 []
  • Why Logs Are Bad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RealBothersome ( 838593 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @08:44AM (#16080179)
    Just another fine example of why logging your customer activity can be a bad thing.
  • by johanw ( 1001493 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @08:47AM (#16080198)
    As far as I know and read the Tor documentation, Tor doesn't keep logs. So either the police is incompetent, doesn't know it and seizes the servers anyway (not unsurprising), or either they are irritated by an anonymous network they can't control and try to harrass as many people using it as they can, to try to break it down (also wouldn't surprise me). Or both options apply at the same time (most probable option IMO).
  • Tor logs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @09:16AM (#16080338)
    From Tor man page []

    Log minSeverity[-maxSeverity] stderr|stdout|syslog
    Send all messages between minSeverity and maxSeverity to the standard output stream, the standard error stream, or to the system log. (The "syslog" value is only supported on Unix.) Recognized severity levels are debug, info, notice, warn, and err. We advise using "notice" in most cases, since anything more verbose may provide sensitive information to an attacker who obtains the logs. If only one severity level is given, all messages of that level or higher will be sent to the listed destination.

    SafeLogging 0|1
    If 1, Tor replaces potentially sensitive strings in the logs (e.g. addresses) with the string [scrubbed]. This way logs can still be useful, but they don't leave behind personally identifying information about what sites a user might have visited. (Default: 1)

    So one would have to deliberately change several defaults to get logs with any data the cops might be interested in. From their point of view, worth a try, but unlikely to be fruitful.
  • Re:legal basis (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 11, 2006 @09:19AM (#16080353)
    Presumably the TOR servers aren't logging anything, if they are though then it's a different story.

    They can perform a very effective traffic analysis with just lists of IP addresses, they can collect IP addresses of what may be other child porn servers that TOR users may have visited. They also can potentially collect sets of incoming IP addresses from clients which might be very useful if any of those IP addresses showed up somewhere else (maybe in a access log on a web server) or if the owners of those IP addresses are already known sex offenders.

    It's true that they'll only see a snap shot of the data on the tor network and they rotate peers out fairly quickly but I wouldn't assume that there isn't anything usful..

    All anonymous services on the internet are eventually used for evil, call that Axel's Law. You may not like it but I haven't seen it not happen yet, be it disgruntled employees posting corporate secrets or freaks looking for child porn, if there is a way to really maintain anonymity on the net, it will be abused.

  • to break the rules (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Silver Sloth ( 770927 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @09:34AM (#16080414)
    I'm not saying that the rules are 'good' rules, but you, exactly like the child pornographers, are using tor to avoid the rules.

    The point here is that certain 'freedoms' have costs and limits. Your demand to avoid the petty rules of your school about IRC is merely a matter of degree away from a child pornographers demand to view kiddie porn unmolested.

    And meanwhile, with the current international paranoia, the powers that be will always be very interested in who doesn't want to be listened to.

  • by moxley ( 895517 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @09:41AM (#16080451)
    These governments want total control and will do whatever is necessary to get it - including subverting their own laws, false flag attacks, manipulation of the public via mainstream corporate media distortions etc.

    BY the time their goals are achieved the internet will probably be like an interactive version of MSNBC crossed with the home shopping network.

    Anonymity and privacy online will be a thing of the past. All dissenting viewpoints will be monitored; no, wait, ALL viewpoints will be monitored.

    Things like TOR which promote freedom and privacy will not be tolerated by these fasicsts, and they will find a way to subvert or desrtoy them - if the child porn argument doesn't work then they'll use the oldest trick in the book: There are terra-ists out there, they're gonna get us! We must take away your freedom to keep you safe. Give it up for safety, trust us, we know what's best and we have your best interest in mind.
  • Re:legal basis (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @09:46AM (#16080491) Homepage
    let me answer for the police for you.

    this is a very accurate answer....


    well maybe, a friend got their PC back after 4 years and the drives were wiped. If the police take it, do not ever expect it back.
  • by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig.hogger@gmail.NETBSDcom minus bsd> on Monday September 11, 2006 @09:47AM (#16080493) Journal
    Remember Bronfman's declaration about anonymity?
    "Anonymity, on the other hand, means being able to get away with stealing, or hacking, or disseminating illegal material on the Internet - and presuming the right that nobody should know who you are. There is no such right. This is nothing more than the digital equivalent of putting on a ski mask when you rob a bank."
    Edgar Bronfman, Jr., CEO Seagram []
    Only the rich and powerful can enjoy true anonymity.

    The rest of the unwashed masses are to be tagged and followed "for their own good" (according to the police).

    If you listened to the police, they would jail everyone for their own good.

  • Re:legal basis (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @10:11AM (#16080633) Homepage Journal
    The truth is there is not guarantee to anonymity in the US constitution out side of voting. I doubt that Germany or the rest of EU is any different. What people don't seem to get is that Child pornography isn't a victimless crime and it is a bigger problem that most people want to admit. Child pornography looks like it will be the down fall of the all anonymous Internet access.
    I was going to rant about how TOR and Freenet should do some self policing and frankly I wish that they would. However I can also see how that could remove any type of common carrier status protection they may have.
  • Re:legal basis (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 11, 2006 @10:35AM (#16080794)
    There is, considering the results, noone anywhere near as good at fearmongering in the US as the Great George W. Just as Reagan was the Teflon President, George Bush Junior is the Boogeyman President.
  • by zasos ( 688522 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @11:02AM (#16081000) Homepage Journal

    submitted this at 1 am []

    BoingBoing [] picked up a report that German police has raided and seized TOR [] server rooms. TOR [] is a service that allows one to anonymize his or her internet experience (web, chat, etc). BoingBoing [] writes: “We need support, lots of people are chanting the same stupid arguments against anonymization over and over again... "You dont need to be afraid if you have nothing to hide" ... "Only criminals have the need for anonymity." [] AskMefi has a great list [] of responses to that infernal "if you have nothing to hide..." question. [] : "According to an owner of one of the servers, who talked to a public prosecutor, the public prosecutors office knew that the server owners had nothing to do with the child pornography case. Regardless they confiscated some hard disks so that the TOR servers were unusable. As reason they stated that they wanted to scan for traces (e.g. log files). Even though TOR does not keep any logs? I dont really believe them...
    Why have the hard disks really been confiscated??" []: :Don’t get me wrong, child pornography is one of the worst crimes I can think of, and I wish the German authorities all the best in finding the people they are after. I do however feel that the route taken here wasn’t ideal, as it may well lead to a negative perception of Tor in the general public."

    itnomad: [] "One operator whose server was seized as well wrote a letter to all the TOR-operators in Germany he was aware of, reaching me as well; he wrote that he is not aware of any charges pressed against him at the moment and that his provider, whose server-room was raided, was not avilable for a real comment on the weekend."

  • Re:log(0) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @11:05AM (#16081035) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't that make all ISP proxy servers targets? Won't this chilling effect encourage ISPs to install even more spybugs for police, on all kinds of traffic and application streams?
  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @11:12AM (#16081106)
    I suppose the difference is that:
    1) Telcos let you get the CP.
    2) TOR lets you get away with it.

    ISPs don't anonymize your traffic and are complicit in government surveillance of it.

    That said, I do most of my surfing through TOR just because I intrinsically hate the NSA spying on me. I use TOR for the sake of using TOR even though there are sites I can't go to anymore because of bans on TOR IPs thanks to bad actors. I've never liked people looking over my shoulder even when I'm doing absolutely nothing wrong. I'd rather be thought of as hiding something wrong than be known for sure to be doing nothing wrong just for the peace of mind of having my privacy.

    The only things I don't do through TOR are things where I sign-in, like Slashdot, where anonymity is pointless and, in fact, running with an identity through TOR is possibly harmful since it makes it easier to identify each end of the TOR tunnel. It sure is slow-going, though.
  • Re:legal basis (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 11, 2006 @01:03PM (#16082068)
    But when the time comes that people are getting "disappeared" for criticizing the government, I'd rather that TOR existed than not. If we let TOR get disassembled now because of "think of the children" issues, we'll be screwed in the future when we really need it.

    When the time comes that people are getting "disappeared" for criticizing the government then TOR will effectively cease to exist because anyone running a TOR server or any unauthorized computer will be "disappeared", anyone possessing a copy of TOR in source or executable or any other format will be "disappeared", anyone accessing any unauthorized computer will be "disappeared."

    How will TOR help you then?

    I don't know why people think that stuff like TOR would be any use against a totalitarian police state. Totalitarian police states are terribly effective. They don't even need a reason beyond suspicion or mere whim in order to "disappear" persons they don't like or believe might pose even the slightest of threats to their continuance.

    Turing Word: complied

    Have you complied with MiniTruth's latest directive citizen?
  • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @01:15PM (#16082165)
    We have people in key positions that don't even know, understand, or care about what is probably the most important document produced in our nation's history. For those interested: []

    Watch in earnest as General Michael Hayden revises the 4th Amendment.
  • Re:legal basis (Score:3, Interesting)

    by huge colin ( 528073 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @05:25PM (#16084616) Journal
    If your government was oppressive enough to stop any criticism, what makes you think that the same government wouldn't also prohibit the use of any anonymizing software, and seize any hardware running it?

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake