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Austrian Tor Exit Node Operator Found Guilty As an Accomplice

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the blame-thompson-for-babyface-nelson dept.

Communications 255

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from TechDirt: Three years ago we wrote about how Austrian police had seized computers from someone running a Tor exit node. This kind of thing happens from time to time, but it appears that folks in Austria have taken it up a notch by... effectively now making it illegal to run a Tor exit node. According to the report, which was confirmed by the accused, the court found that running the node violated 12 of the Austrian penal code, which effectively says:"Not only the immediate perpetrator commits a criminal action, but also anyone who appoints someone to carry it out, or anyone who otherwise contributes to the completion of said criminal action." In other words, it's a form of accomplice liability for criminality. It's pretty standard to name criminal accomplices liable for "aiding and abetting" the activities of others, but it's a massive and incredibly dangerous stretch to argue that merely running a Tor exit node makes you an accomplice that "contributes to the completion" of a crime. Under this sort of thinking, Volkswagen would be liable if someone drove a VW as the getaway car in a bank robbery. It's a very, very broad interpretation of accomplice liability, in a situation where it clearly does not make sense.

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Parents are all guilty (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377749)

for giving birth to evil people. Arrest them all!

Re:Parents are all guilty (4, Informative)

jythie (914043) | about 5 months ago | (#47377957)

Well, that is where many 'honor' systems are rooted, that the parents are responsible for the child and thus anything the child does wrong becomes the shame of the family or clan.

Re:Parents are all guilty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378469)

Screw volkswagen being liable. The government ITSELF is liable because they provided the roads for the bank robber's escape vehicle to ride on.

Re:Parents are all guilty (4, Interesting)

ganjadude (952775) | about 5 months ago | (#47378111)

i get what you are saying, but if this guy is running an exit node, wouldnt EVERY other node on the route also be an accomplice? where is verizon and ATT on this list? im sure the NSA intercepted it and let it go through, does that make them accomplices as well? why is this single person the only one in the chain of nodes being held to a different standard??

Re:Parents are all guilty (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 5 months ago | (#47378385)

The exit node is what let the traffic get out of the darknet and to the target of the attack...although it would indeed be only slightly more stupid to charge all the parties you listed as accomplices as well (equivalent to charging Michelin, Raybestos, and Shell for helping that Volkswagen be used as a getaway car).

Re:Parents are all guilty (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 5 months ago | (#47378359)

for giving birth to evil people. Arrest them all!

To be fair, the birth of each child comes with an 18 year + sentence, often with a similar sentence for the accomplice.

Traffic laundering will soon become a crime (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377757)

We're moving, slowly but surely, towards making your IP address the equivalent of your social security number in the US.

Re:Traffic laundering will soon become a crime (5, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 5 months ago | (#47377813)

Not until we get IPv6, which will tattooed on your arm.

Re:Traffic laundering will soon become a crime (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378213)

Not until we get IPv6, which will tattooed on your arm.

And the other two 6's are?

Re:Traffic laundering will soon become a crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378273)

Redundant

Does not make sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377777)

Does make eminent sense. If you're that judge, anyway. Now you explain to the judge why it shouldn't make sense.

Personally I'd like to see large corporations persecuted for "aiding in any way" or whatever the legal bumf is. But somehow that sort of thing only happens to the little citizen, and so it's probably time to get that overly broad law amended. Austrians reading should probably consider petitioning their politicians.

Re:Does not make sense? (4, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 5 months ago | (#47377907)

Or, in other words, guilty until proven innocent.

It's accomplices all the way down! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377779)

Is the ISP an accomplice too? And the operating system vendor?

Re:It's accomplices all the way down! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377855)

The victim should be an accomplice too. If it wasn't for the victim falling prey to the crime, there wouldn't have been a crime!

Re:It's accomplices all the way down! (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 5 months ago | (#47377987)

That makes me a bit concerned and curious as to why no ISPs or similar companies got involved in the case. While a judge and jury might not understand the technical details, people working in tech (and their lawyers) probably would and companies should be concerned about how this might come back to them.

Re:It's accomplices all the way down! (2)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | about 5 months ago | (#47378327)

Probably because it is not a precedence based jurisdiction, so this case has no concern for them. They can relax, wait and battle when/if they are actually target of a lawsuit.
Of course this decission may be an indicator of how the law is to be interpreted, but that is a problem with the law itself and winnning this case for the guy will change nothing about that for the ISPs.

Re:It's accomplices all the way down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378035)

Well, obviously not. This only applies to (poor) people, and corporations aren't people... except when they are.

Re:It's accomplices all the way down! (2)

ZeroPly (881915) | about 5 months ago | (#47378163)

Not in America. Here, corporations are good people, and people people are bad people.

Re:It's accomplices all the way down! (0, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 months ago | (#47378177)

No, because they are in effect a 'dumb carrier' of *all* traffic and the user is the one that is liable, while you signed up with something that is known to hide illegal traffic, so both of you are.

Re:It's accomplices all the way down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378357)

Sure. And if the government allows such traffic to go through their "tubes", then they are accomplices too. So they should seize their own computers.

Re:It's accomplices all the way down! (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#47378481)

Is the ISP an accomplice too? And the operating system vendor?

The Austrian Government owns over a 30% stake in the primary ISP and used to own 100% so... no. :-)

Wonderful car analogy! (1)

rotorbudd (1242864) | about 5 months ago | (#47377793)

Did the editors do this, or is it in TFA?

Re:Wonderful car analogy! (2)

HappyHead (11389) | about 5 months ago | (#47377809)

TFA is actually pretty short - not much longer than the summary. You should go read it!

Re:Wonderful car analogy! (4, Funny)

rotorbudd (1242864) | about 5 months ago | (#47377863)

What? Read the article?
This IS slashdot right?

Re:Wonderful car analogy! (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | about 5 months ago | (#47377913)

It's really not a very good analogy. For the analogy to hold, the courts would have had to rule that a company that manufactures a computer that was used as an exit node is liable. This ruling is more akin to saying that it's illegal to leave the keys in your ignition because someone could take your car and commit a crime with it.

Re:Wonderful car analogy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377979)

Or operate a bus for the purpose of public transport.

Re:Wonderful car analogy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377981)

It's a bit more like holding the bus driver liable if a bank robber used their bus as a getaway vehicle.

Re:Wonderful car analogy! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378109)

More like the Tor node operator is guilty by simply operating a Tor node. Hence "You're an idiot, and you're going to pay the price"

This should make non-commercial tor-node operators wake up and realize that you're not hiding anything by operating a Tor node (people operating them have something to hide otherwise they wouldn't be operating them.) The companies that should be operating a tor entrance/exit node are those who know they will not be liable for it, and thus mine the data coming in and out with impunity.

Almost... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378167)

Actually, more like leaving the keys in the ignition AND putting up a notice "feel free to borrow my car, don't tell me what you do with and I won't ask." Some people would consider that a kind gesture and only use it for a quick trip to the store when they're out of bread and it's raining, and they'd otherwise have to ride their bike, but someone could also choose use it to drive drunk, without a license, and run over a toddler. I'm not saying you are directly responsible for other's actions, but in all honesty, you can be absolutely certain that some percentage of people WILL use it for something illegal sooner or later (and very likely something they would not do using a car that can be traced back to them). Sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "na na na na" doesn't really change that.

It's actually a really tricky concept to nail down as there are certain actions that are absolutely assisting in the commission of a crime (for example loaning your car to a specific person when you have knowledge or at least strong reason to believe that they're going to use it to commit a crime) and others that are fully innocent (for example, manufacturing and selling cars to the public).
while this situation seems closer to the innocent side, it's definitely at least a shade of grey. You know what kinds of things (a very significant percentage of) people use the service for, and you choose to allow your resources to be used for those purposes because either: A. You believe that offering honest people anonymity and privacy is more important, or B. You disagree with the laws they will be violating and/or support and condone their behavior. Having various courts in various countries make rulings one way or the other is actually a good thing because it will help to eventually achieve a consensus about what is/should be legal vs illegal in democratic countries, instead of each person having to guess how far they can go before getting smacked down.

Re:Almost... (1)

TooTechy (191509) | about 5 months ago | (#47378373)

Does this mean that anyone who allows public access through their property, like a store with two doors, or a shopping mall operator, will be responsible too for the bank robbery?

Maybe yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378491)

If they had put up a sign that says "Come on through. No security guard on duty. No cameras in use, and I won't look." in addition to the normal "We're Open" sign. In that case, yes, they knowingly provided means to assist such criminals, AND let the criminals know they were doing so; in-effect inviting them to. It should obviously be a much less severe crime than actually robbing the bank, but it could well constitute a crime of some kind.

Re:Maybe yes... (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about 5 months ago | (#47378563)

Well, it shouldn't. In any truly free country, the potential for abuse shouldn't mean whatever it is should get banned.

Re:Wonderful car analogy! (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 5 months ago | (#47378209)

i would argue a better one would be a criminal robbed a bank, and in the process of running from the cops he ran through your home, and somehow you are liable

Re:Wonderful car analogy! (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 5 months ago | (#47378325)

Well, that depends... did you leave your front door open with a big sign saying "Twisty passages inside! Great for losing pursuers!" posted next to it?

If so, then it's pretty easy to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were not just aware that your actions could assist criminals, but you actually made overt actions to help them.

What about the ISP? (2)

msauve (701917) | about 5 months ago | (#47377799)

They contributed at least as much. And, a few backbone providers. This guy was just a single hop, they contribute many.

Re:What about the ISP? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 5 months ago | (#47377937)

Ah, but the ISPs and backbone providers are likely big companies with lawyers. So they can't possibly be accomplices and must be completely innocent angels. This individual with no team of lawyers on retainer is obviously guilty of helping out nasty criminals.

Re:What about the ISP? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47378197)

And, don't forget, the provisions of the DMCA and the things like it were written in such a way as to safeguard the ISPs as long as they played ball with the authorities.

Under the guise of copyright reform, government have rigged the game, and built in a mechanism by which they can continue to illegally spy on everybody and pretend like it's all legit.

We are pretty much fucked. "State Security" has become the catch phrase (along with kiddie porn and copyright) which is being used to ensure we no longer live in free societies.

Aint it grand? Welcome to the Brave New World.

Re:What about the ISP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378309)

Brave New World isn't really apropos here.

It'll come down to an opinion (5, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about 5 months ago | (#47377801)

It'll come down to an opinion as to whether or not the use of Tor implies an intent to allow others to break the law. While an anonymizer service itself can be used for both legal and illegal purposes, if the court later finds that its use is far more illegitimate than it is legitimate, then that will dictate how they rule on the matter.

That's the biggest difference compared to the car analogy, in that the demonstrated legitimate use of cars far, far outweighs the illegitimate use of cars. Using cars is the norm. Using Tor is not the norm, and so then it becomes a matter of scrutinizing what it does, who uses it, and for what purposes.

Same issues held true for networks like Napster and MegaUpload, and holds true for bit torrent.

Re:It'll come down to an opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377927)

So all it would take is a bunch of 'evil' people using Tor and all of a sudden a perfectly neutral technology effectively gets banned? What a great system of government. So free.

Re:It'll come down to an opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377999)

So all it would take is a bunch of 'evil' people using Tor and all of a sudden a perfectly neutral technology effectively gets banned? What a great system of government. So free.

Go get yourself some Google Glasses and tell us how society shouldn't react based on how people think you're using technology but on all its benefits instead. I hear that's an argument that's well received....

Captcha: intent

Re:It'll come down to an opinion (2)

jythie (914043) | about 5 months ago | (#47378023)

Or, conversely, if it was routinely and publicly being used for neutral activities it would be a lot safer. At the moment it tends to be filled with a combination of people using it generally for ideological reasons and people using it specifically for nefarious ones. Kinda like torrents, the use of them for piracy is greater then the use of them for other activities, but if the other activities made up a larger part then it would be treated differntly.

Re:It'll come down to an opinion (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 5 months ago | (#47377949)

The problem is with saying a particular Tor node might be involved in a "crime" (copyright infringement (shudder)). The summary's example is a little flawed, it's more akin to arresting a car dealer because an auto they sold might be involved in a crime. The same argument could be made about cash (could be involved in something nefarious and untraceable) or, god help us, guns. This is just kowtowing to corporate interests, masquerading as shoddy legal thinking.

Re:It'll come down to an opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378479)

The same argument could be made about cash (could be involved in something nefarious and untraceable)

And according to UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency, 90% of 500 euro notes in UK are used by criminals. Clearly if you have one, you are likely to be a criminal (let's ignore how many of notes you should actually have to have increased likelihood of being a criminal).

Re:It'll come down to an opinion (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 5 months ago | (#47377969)

It'll come down to an opinion as to whether or not the use of Tor implies an intent to allow others to break the law. While an anonymizer service itself can be used for both legal and illegal purposes

I was under the impression TOR was explicitly designed to allow others to break the law, for the benefit of regions where things like expressing an opinion is illegal. Of course an anonymizer service is only effective if there is plenty of other innocuous white noise on the same channel.

Re:It'll come down to an opinion (2)

AaronLS (1804210) | about 5 months ago | (#47377977)

Agreed. There are some very noble uses of Tor, but when you operate an exit node you are basically allowing any scum to use your connection to hide their activities, and some are really sick. I wish there were a good solution to allow an exit node to be operated, but prevent some of the more nefarious uses. In the absence of that, it is pretty irresponsible to contribute such a powerful component(the exit node) without discretion for what it will be used for. At least an ISP providing a physical link has the capability to identify households, whereas the Tor exit node prevents that, and exit node operators know this. So I think in that respect the ISP is not an accomplice, as they know and are willing to help catch criminals(although there is an argument to be made in oppressive regimes abusing this power). Where as an exit node operator should be knowledgeable that they are preventing the prosecution of criminals, some of which are towards the extreme of being really disgusting, and thus are knowingly acting as an accomplice.

There was a FreeNET that basically was an encrypted distributed WWW that hosted parts on different people's machines. It was encrypted to absolve hosts from responsibility, but it was used quite a bit for child pornography.

Of course even without Tor, when you identify a household sourcing criminal activities, you still have the grey area of things like unsecured Wifi. Is someone an accomplice because they left their Wifi open for anyone to connect to? It is a slippery slope and the tech illiteracy of judges contributes to some bad rulings in cases like this.

Re:It'll come down to an opinion (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378201)

Someone could abused it, so you're an accomplice of some crime. I would rather let many 'guilty' people go free than have technologies like this be suppressed in such ways.

I mean, seriously? Does anyone who wants to live in a free country think that this is even remotely a good thing? If so, they're lying about wanting to live in a free country.

Re:It'll come down to an opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378141)

Those were really bad decisions. Illegitimate use by some should never be the reason we criminalize use of something by all. The mere fact something can be used in a legitimate fashion should be sufficient to make it legal.

Re:It'll come down to an opinion (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 5 months ago | (#47378279)

I think you're making good points. If I own a toll bridge, I know that my bridge is going to be used to transport all kinds of stolen property. Still, I shouldn't be liable for such transport.

Re:It'll come down to an opinion (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 5 months ago | (#47378293)

Using Tor is not the norm, and so then it becomes a matter of scrutinizing what it does, who uses it, and for what purposes.

The same could be said for any emerging technology. That argument would have applied when SSL was new. Maybe one day Tor will be standard, you buy a new computer, get online, and it's using Tor without you ever changing any settings. The EFF is already saying that everyone should use Tor [eff.org] . At this point, the only reason it's not the norm is because it's fairly new. I wouldn't be surprised if we see computers within a couple years marketed with privacy in mind that come with Tor already installed and configured, or ISPs adding exit nodes to their networks as a PR privacy initiative.

ISPs are accomplices to malware (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377811)

By this logic, anyone running an internet router is guilty under this interpretation of that law if they connect between a piece of malware and a C&C server.

Re:ISPs are accomplices to malware (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378243)

You are mostly correct, but there is a slight difference. Internet routers are used to carry all kinds of traffic. But most of Tor traffic is some kind of shady stuff going on.

Another example. If you have an Internet router, you cannot be suspected to be a pirate just because of that. But if you are transferring BitTorrent traffic, the probability of you being a pirate becomes higher.

Now, of course Tor and BitTorrent cannot be used to deem anyone guilty either, but they do raise the suspicion level. It's not the same situation than just running an Internet router.

Everyone is guilty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377821)

By this logic, should Microsoft, Intel, ASUS, the store he bought the ethernet cable from, etc, etc all be guilty as providing the means to commit the crime? Very broad, very scary.

Re:Everyone is guilty (1)

AaronLS (1804210) | about 5 months ago | (#47378143)

No that is not the logic being applied. You are ignoring certain factors in the sake of making a very silly argument. A car manufacturer is not an accomplice because someone used one of their cars to commit a crime, because the design and typical use of a car is for legitimate purposes. If however, the car manufacturer provided features designed specifically to aid criminals, or features which happenstance had more common criminal uses than legitimate, then they would be an accomplice be cause the knowingly continued to provide these features without taking corrective action. It seems wrong that I am a criminal because I provide some product/service, and happenstance without my foresight it is used for criminal purposes. One would be expected to take responsible action to make amends to the product/service to eliminate or track this usage. For example, ISPs providing a physical link are capable of identifying the source of criminal activity.

So the distinction is when you provide a product/service that is known to have primary illegal usages. You can make arguments for Tor on a non-legal basis such as freedom, right to anonymity, anti regime, anti oppressive government arguments. However, from the standpoint of law, there is a certain distinction on what makes someone an accomplice.

Whatever way we want it to be (3, Insightful)

NReitzel (77941) | about 5 months ago | (#47377829)

In the post-911 world, police departments all over the world are moving into Orwellian territory. They spot someone that they "know" is doing a crime, and they go searching for a law to hammer them.

With laws that don't sunset, and legislative organizations (worldwide) passing more rules and regulations and laws as fast as they can write them down, the state is moving to consolidate it's power. Once, a congressman from the United States said of his constituents, "There are no law-abiding citizens, there are only citizens who haven't yet broken a law."

Wait for it. The police are choosing to persecute (sic) whomever they want to, and due process seems to be fading into the sunset.

Re:Whatever way we want it to be (4, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 5 months ago | (#47378063)

Once, a congressman from the United States said of his constituents, "There are no law-abiding citizens, there are only citizens who haven't yet broken a law."

If you are going to quote someone then you need to give a name and, if possible, a reference. Saying "a congressman from the United States" is meaningless. Yes, I did a Google search for that phrase and found nothing.

Re:Whatever way we want it to be (2)

dunkindave (1801608) | about 5 months ago | (#47378147)

Once, a congressman from the United States said of his constituents, "There are no law-abiding citizens, there are only citizens who haven't yet broken a law."

Funny, I tried googling your quote to see what congressman said it and when, but Google didn't find any matches. I also tried some variants of the wording but still no luck. It seems to me that such a quote would produce a lot of search results if it happened. Citation please?

Re:Whatever way we want it to be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378155)

And that's exactly why terrorism is nothing more then a scare tactic. The US has done this before, for a free country the powers-that-be sure didn't want equal rights, and feared every type of protest or political movement. I still say those powers worry about this country turning into Syria, maybe not as violent, but an overthrow of government.

This arrest and conviction has to be a push from the copyright trolls, and other industries that have been well documented on /.. Possibly even governments, domestic or foreign, however the tor network as holes in it, or governments charged with spying have hit and miss attempts to monitor a target, collect data of a target, and want to start in countries that have idiots laws/courts, and work their way outward. I'm sure Austria's side of the story will be it harbored terrorism, allowing terrorists to work anonymously making it difficult to track and collect any data, which is a possibility since the US claims Austria is another haven for terrorist groups.

Uh no (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#47377843)

Under this sort of thinking, Volkswagen would be liable if someone drove a VW as the getaway car in a bank robbery.

No. Under this sort of thinking, the owner of a Volkswagen would be liable if someone drove their VW as the getaway car in a bank robbery. And indeed, in some countries you can be held [partially] liable for misuse of your vehicle even if all you did was leave the keys in the car, especially if you have even a passing relationship with the perpetrators.

Re:Uh no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378011)

And indeed, in some countries you can be held [partially] liable for misuse of your vehicle even if all you did was leave the keys in the car, especially if you have even a passing relationship with the perpetrators.

Some countries, such as USA, where you can get life in prison without parole for letting someone else drive your car [wikipedia.org]

Re:Uh no (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 months ago | (#47378075)

Uhh, did you even read the Wikipedia article you linked, never mind actually researching the case in question on your own?

"Ryan Joseph Holle (born November 17, 1982) was convicted in 2004 of first-degree murder under the felony murder rule for lending his car to a friend after the friend and others at the party discussed their plans to steal drugs, money and beat up the 18 year old daughter of a marijuana dealer."
"Holle, who had given the police statements in which he seemed to admit knowing about the burglary, was convicted on August 3, 2004"

I don't see a problem here. "Hey, we're going to go rob this person. Can we borrow your car?" "Sure, here are the keys." What would possibly go wrong?

I do see a problem, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378355)

The problem isn't that the car owner was convicted of a crime, the problem is that it was absolutely the WRONG crime. First-degree murder? Not even CLOSE. There are specific charges for things like assisting in the commission of a murder or helping to cover it up, etc. There are also things like second degree murder, manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, etc, which might be at least a little less inappropriate. In this case, David Rimmer (the prosecutor with his head so far up his ass that he has to make arguments out of his belly button) should be disbarred and serving time, and Ryan Holle (the irresponsible car loaner) should be free. I'd prefer that he were charged with a lesser crime instead if he actually had knowledge that they were going to commit a crime of some kind, but that not being the case he would have to simply be found not guilty due to the incompetence of the prosecutor/DA/etc. Then next time they might be a little more hesitant to lodge completely false and inappropriate charges against a semi-accomplice (at worst).

Re:Uh no (1)

Tharkkun (2605613) | about 5 months ago | (#47378031)

Under this sort of thinking, Volkswagen would be liable if someone drove a VW as the getaway car in a bank robbery.

No. Under this sort of thinking, the owner of a Volkswagen would be liable if someone drove their VW as the getaway car in a bank robbery. And indeed, in some countries you can be held [partially] liable for misuse of your vehicle even if all you did was leave the keys in the car, especially if you have even a passing relationship with the perpetrators.

The owner would only be responsible if they loaned the vehicle and even in that case they could just say it was stolen. This would be akin to owning a strip club and get busted for prostitution. You can tell people not to do illegal things but when you're having sex with a stripper on the property, the owner is liable for damages. Just like the person running the TOR. If he knows people will be using this for illegal purposes than maybe he should have a way to ban them.

Highway Department Guilty (1)

zenlessyank (748553) | about 5 months ago | (#47377851)

for allowing illegal aliens and drug smugglers to use the highways. They are definitely guilty of aiding and abetting. To the Gulag!!!

No, it's not the same as selling cars at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377853)

Prima: I need to do some dodgy shit.
Secunda: I am going to offer a resource for people to do dodgy shit.
Prima: I am going to use your resource to do dodgy shit.
Secunda: OK, please carry on using it.

It'd be possibly like going into a car dealership and announcing that you'd like to buy a getaway car and could they suggest, equip and sell the most suitable.

And, yes, making a request to your computer in your ownership+control is the same as making a request to you.

No, it's not the same as selling cars at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378003)

You got it wrong here:

Secunda: I am going to offer a resource for people to do dodgy shit.

It's

Secunda: I am going to offer a my car for people to do who don't want to use their own car. The key is in the car. Please return when done. No questions asked.

Re:No, it's not the same as selling cars at all. (3, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 months ago | (#47378059)

Prima: I need to do some dodgy shit.
Secunda: I am going to offer a resource for people to do dodgy shit.
Prima: I am going to use your resource to do dodgy shit.
Secunda: OK, please carry on using it.

Prima: I need to be anonymous
Secunda: I offer masks. Masks make you anonymous.
Prima: I am going to use your resource (thinking only to self: to do dodgy shit.)
Secunda: I'm glad someone appreciates my fine craftsmanship.

If a bankrobber robs a bank while wearing a mask purchased from a store, is that mask store held liable? Usually only if the bank robber explicitly said "I'm going to use this mask to do dodgy shit".

users of the tor network don't notify exit node maintainers what they plan to do with the exit nodes they transfer data from. At best, an exit node maintainer might be able to firewall off certain sites, but that's cumbersome and doesn't prevent 99% of evil use cases.

Re:No, it's not the same as selling cars at all. (1)

AndrewBuck (1120597) | about 5 months ago | (#47378127)

Kind of ironic that you chose to post that comment anonymously, exactly the kind of thing TOR is designed to allow for.

-AndrewBuck

Re:No, it's not the same as selling cars at all. (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about 5 months ago | (#47378241)

And, yes, making a request to your computer in your ownership+control is the same as making a request to you.

Besides what others said: No, because a person isn't instantly informed that such a thing took place. Under certain circumstances, they may never even find out.

Bad Car Analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377865)

Eh...regardless of what I think about the verdict, the Volkswagon analogy is a bit off. It's not like the manufacturer of the computer is being held accountable, just the person who let it be used from criminal activity.

A more accurate Volkswangon analogy would be if someone asked you if they could use your Volkswagon, you said yes, and then they used it as a getaway car.

Analogy Sucks... (1)

HogGeek (456673) | about 5 months ago | (#47377891)

"Under this sort of thinking, Volkswagen would be liable if someone drove a VW as the getaway car in a bank robbery"

That may be the case, but probably only if VW knowingly pursued bank robbers as customers (e.g.; in their ads they said something to the effect of "Perfect as a get-away vehicle!")

I'd bet the courts/prosecutor said something to the effect "As the 'administrator' of a TOR exit node, It's not unreasonable for the operator to expect illicit or illegal activity to take place, as the intent of TOR is anonymity", or something along those lines...

Re:Analogy Sucks... (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 5 months ago | (#47377983)

Comcast is turning users' cable modems into public hotspots. So anyone could connect to a user's modem and use it for any purpose that one might connect to the Internet for. If said use is illegal, would the person who owned (or leased it from Comcast as the case may be) be liable as an accomplice? After all, if you provide open Internet access, you've got to expect that someone is going to do something illegal with it.

(I know that the story is in Australia and this is in the US, but this sounds like a valid comparison.)

Re:Analogy Sucks... (2)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 months ago | (#47378097)

Comcast is turning users' cable modems into public hotspots. So anyone could connect to a user's modem and use it for any purpose that one might connect to the Internet for. If said use is illegal, would the person who owned (or leased it from Comcast as the case may be) be liable as an accomplice?

My understanding is that it's not a public hotspot, the access is only made available for other Comcast customers, and that in any event the traffic is handled separately from the owner of the connection. It goes out with a different globally valid IP and does not count against the owner's bandwidth cap or otherwise inconvenience him.

Re:Analogy Sucks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378175)

Comcast is not turning home users' wifi into *public* hostspots. They will only be for use by other Comcast customers who must provide credentials to log in. There's non annonymity there.

Re:Analogy Sucks... (1)

DF5JT (589002) | about 5 months ago | (#47378299)

(I know that the story is in Australia and this is in the US, but this sounds like a valid comparison.)

This may be news to you, but there is actually a country called Austria and it's not the one with the kangaroos.

Re:Analogy Sucks... (1)

Flavianoep (1404029) | about 5 months ago | (#47378347)

(I know that the story is in Australia and this is in the US, but this sounds like a valid comparison.)

I always wondering if someone would mistake Australia for Austria on /. and if that one would be American... Now, I've got confirmation bias :-P

Exactly this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378559)

Trying to pretend otherwise is just fooling yourself. Whether or not it should actually constitute a crime is a larger a more complex question, but the original analogy is so far off that it's just plain stupid and does nothing to further the argument (and in fact weakens it).

VW as the getaway car in a bank robbery (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 months ago | (#47377919)

More like arresting a taxi driver for transporting a bank robber when the taxi driver didn't know he was a bank robber.

If the Republicans had their way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47377959)

we would attack the car companies for what they're responsible for. They hate unions so much they were willing to destroy GM in order to punish the UAW. That is the way of their kind. They'd rather have us all starve than have a few people succeed. In this case, they are incapable of comprehending the Internet so they punish innocent people. They hate the Internet and want to kill it so they see this as a good thing.

A few points (5, Informative)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 5 months ago | (#47377993)

1. Apparently a final ruling has not been reached. While a court has found the operator guilty it's not clear if that will ultimately hold.

2. None of TFA provide any details of what the ruling was based on, beyond the TOT node being used for illegal activity by someone else. Without more details, it is impossible to conclude that merely running a TOR node is illegal; the only conclusion from TFA is someone was prosecuted for running one. A relationship between the operator and the user committing fraud, or if the operator new the user was using the node of illegal purposes, is vastly different than merely running a node where a user is using it for illegal activities. The former is much more reasonable to prosecute than the latter.

3. As others point out, in keeping with /. traditions, the car analogy is bogus.

Re:A few points (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | about 5 months ago | (#47378051)

Thanks. Its contributions like yours thant make /. a still tolerable place.

Precedence (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 5 months ago | (#47378001)

Let's hope lots of kidnap victims will now sue the phone company and the post office because they aided the kidnapper by allowing and delivering anonymous phone calls and ransom notes.

So, privacy is illegal then? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47378007)

So is the gist of this that anything which prevents the government from spying on you is now illegal?

Have we come that far already?

Sad, the world used to be such a nice place, but governments have become so demanding in their surveillance that anything which they can't defeat is now illegal.

Why surprise? This *IS* big government (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378021)

Why is everyone acting surprised when some government does this?

You give government the power to "fix things" or "take care of you", and THIS is what such governments are going to do.

The government that gives you health care is going to control how big a soda you can buy.

The government that gives you internet service is going to control the traffic you send across it.

The government that wants to protect you is going to monitor every damn thing you do.

This is a failure of Tor (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 5 months ago | (#47378027)

We need a system that blends in better with regular traffic.

This is a failure of Tor (1)

slashdice (3722985) | about 5 months ago | (#47378195)

if your regular traffic is illegal in nature, any illegal tor traffic will blend right in!

Re:This is a failure of Tor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378225)

Someone has to be on the end someplace to request the final server which will always know about who called it, unless it's using hidden services which tor already does.

Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378037)

Aussies..

So did they charge the ISP as well? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 5 months ago | (#47378055)

Since, after all, the ISP carried the traffic that facilitated the crime..

Techincally, its right (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 months ago | (#47378073)

Ultimately you are responsible for the traffic that exits your PC. Sure, if you are infected with a virus, you have a potential 'out' but if you *allow* it, then not so much.

The "VW" analogy in the story line, is ludicrous. If you want to use a car analogy; its like letting your friends store gym bags in your trunk while you drive cross country. You didnt ask what was in the bags, but know there could be drugs..

Very bad car analogy (3, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 5 months ago | (#47378077)

The car analogy is so flawed it really should be removed from the story for this significant reason: cars are designed to move people and stuff. They can be used to commit crimes, but that is not their intended use.

Tor on the other hand, is explicitly designed to allow people to remain anonymous, to prevent detection. While honest people most certainly use Tor, so do criminals and it is because of Tor's intended purpose that the police are justifying their actions.

Before anyone flames me, I am not justifying what is taking place. I am only giving a much better explanation than that ridiculous car analogy for why this is taking place.

Re:Very bad car analogy (1)

richlv (778496) | about 5 months ago | (#47378165)

"While honest people most certainly use cars, so do criminals"

so you were saying ?

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47378239)

lol that was a really bad idea, i wonder just how many kids of people in politics can be chargerd there, i bet there parents are also liable for paying for the internet connection!

Start at the source (1)

h4x0t (1245872) | about 5 months ago | (#47378261)

Hardware manufacturers are clearly to blame for enabling this man to commit crimes. Transmission line owners are at fault for supplying him with power to commit crimes. ISPs gave him direct access to the internet, allowing him to perform these acts. I say lock them all up.

Reich Heartland (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 5 months ago | (#47378429)

If history has taught us anything at all it has taught us that Austria has a tendency to be way over the edge of reasoning in its legal practices. The reason the car analogy is correct is that in fact the average car will at some point be used to commit a crime. For example driving a bit drunk is a crime. Forgetting to make a timely renewal on the cars insurance is also a criminal act. Speeding is a crime as well. Therefore the average car is sold with the seller knowingly being an accomplice to the crimes. A more sane interpretation would require the party to know clearly what crime would be committed as well as a rather precise accounting of what the seller knew, time, place, etc. in advance of the crime.

Cisco is an accomplice? (2)

chuckugly (2030942) | about 5 months ago | (#47378457)

Does this make every link, switch, and router on the route an accomplice? Why not?

It is amazing the postoffice has lasted thing long (1)

Maxwell (13985) | about 5 months ago | (#47378477)

Postal mail - the original pirate transport mechanism!

they need to be shut down, stat!

(sadly) inevitable (1)

sam0vi (985269) | about 5 months ago | (#47378519)

This has been a long time coming. Not to say is the right thing, but I think it was bound to happen. Freedom for the masses is a very dangerous thing for the stability of our society ... I mean ... for the billionaire multinational "elite" and their puppet "democratic" governments. I'll consider him a martyr for the evolution of human society (sorry Fritz!).
For things to get better, they sometimes have to get worse :-(

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