Austrian Tor Exit Node Operator Found Guilty As An Accomplice Because Someone Used His Node To Commit A crime
from the bad,-bad-news dept
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.
Tragically, this comes out the same day that the EFF is promoting why everyone should use Tor. While it accurately notes that no one in the US has been prosecuted for running Tor, it may want to make a note about Austria. Hopefully there is some way to fight back on this ruling and take it to a higher court — and hopefully whoever reviews it will be better informed about how Tor works and what it means to run an exit node.