Germany Trying To Shut Down Anonymous Servers?

from the if-you've-got-nothing-to-hide... dept

Anytime you see someone defending surveillance systems, you know that sooner or later, they'll utter the ridiculous phrase: "If you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about." That's the point at which you should absolutely start worrying. The corollary to this statement is often to naturally assume that anyone who is trying to hide something, must have done something wrong. For example, just last year, we wrote about a case in Minnesota, where the fact that someone had the popular PGP encryption on his computer was used as evidence against him (no attempt was made to show what he had encrypted, just that he had the encryption software, suggesting he must have wanted to hide something). There's some worry that a similar situation may now be happening in Germany, where Boing Boing reports German authorities are seizing various Tor servers in connection with an investigation into child porn distribution. Tor, of course, is a well-known anonymous surfing tool that's targeted at "whistle-blowers, political dissidents, researchers, and others concerned about exchanging information without authoritarian backlash." Of course whenever you have an anonymous system it will be misused. That's the price you pay for anonymity -- and many believe that the ability to be anonymous is often worth the cost that some will misuse it. At this point, it's too early to tell what the German officials are going to do, but apparently there's some fear that those who run Tor servers are going to be charged in a "guilt by association" type of situation. Hopefully, that's not the case at all, but it is a reminder that as valuable as anonymity is, it's still viewed with suspicion. Update: Well, we said there weren't enough details, and that was true. Boing Boing now has an update, saying that Tor servers are not being targeted, but a few were seized as part of a larger investigation.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    dorpus, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 2:06am


    In more than one country, the libertarian gung-ho privacy attitudes are associated with Marxist politics. I was just on a forum where a leftist newspaper in Japan criticized the post-9/11 surveillance culture, and "conservative" Japanese told the newspaper to shove privacy up theirs.

    The US is an anomaly, where libertarian views tend to be associated with the Right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 4:33am

    Tor has legitimate uses too. I use it on my school network when they turn on the filters so I can download files and check my email past the 10 minute limit (it takes 10 damn minutes to load). My friend uses it for similar reason at home because his dad set up a whitelist and he can't access most sites.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 5:22am


    I don't know if that's a legitimate use. You're still using it to circumvent security systems. Downloading files on a school computer and bypassing questionable sites isn't the type of advertising that will win Tor awards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    mark, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 5:37am

    Re: Funny

    In America, libertarians are associated with the Right because the Right is pro-business. A lot of Libertarians are pro-business as they want less govt. control, in order to make more profit. I am a libertarian, as are many associates of mine and they are people who are in business for themselves.

    The left is all about govt. control. It's not the libertarians here that are screwed up, it's the politcal parties!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 5:57am

    Ultimatly theres no left or right when there's a gun to your head. Political parties can bicker all they want but it won't change the fact that when there is oppression there is oppression. Everyone has something to hide, regardless of who they are. Tor has no legitimate uses if you view keeping a secret as illegitimate. People could use Tor to keep their parents who check site access from knowing that they're gay. I use tor to sign up for forum accounts without my IP being broadcasted. Are those legitimate?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 6:19am

    Hey.... why not? Shut down anonymous servers!! And burn any books that aren't what you want to see also!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Matt, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 6:40am

    Re: Re:

    I think he means that his content is more legitimate (legality-wise) than the kiddie pr0n that the other nutsos are doing. Yes, he's doing exactly what you describe, but the content is nowhere near the same. I think that's the point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 6:44am

    litmus test...

    this is a good litmus test for us guys. Theres lots of things I'm not sure whether they're good or bad or right or wrong. Theres almost always a lot of gray area.

    But you do _not_ shut down anonymizing servers.

    The end.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Araemo, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 6:48am

    Re: Re:

    unless of course the blocking is government-imposed like the chinese firewall and such... then people are all for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    chris (profile), Sep 11th, 2006 @ 6:50am

    everyone has something to hide from someone

    everyone *should* protect their privacy because everyone is doing something that someone could consider "wrong".

    if more people took steps to protect themselves then protecting yourself wouldn't carry the stigma that it currently carries.

    no matter who you are or what you are into, there is *someone* out there who will think you are doing something wrong.


    1) if your boss/co-workers are not religious and you are, then your "inspiration of the day" and WWJD surfing could be considered wrong. the same could be said for secular people in a religious setting.

    2) if you are in to [instert ethinicity here] power, your parents/spouse/employer/local govt. may not approve and you would naturally want to protect yourself. in the united states, you could be mistaken for a terrorist.

    the question isn't whether or not you are doing something wrong, because we are all doing something wrong according some someone's moral compass.

    the questions is why aren't you doing more to protect yourself?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    dennis parrott, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 7:31am

    Re: Funny

    i disagree. libertarian views are definitely NOT right wing in the US.

    if you take the time to really learn about libertarian points of view and philosophy, you will see that they are critical of both the political left and right in our country. both the left and the right seek to impose a form of tyranny. the libertarians reject both.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Rabid Wolverine, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 7:48am

    Re: Book burning

    Just burn all the books, nobody reads anymore anyway and if they do, most of them do not have the slightest comprehension of what they are reading.

    Just ask any school kid to explain 3 of the 'Bill of Rights'.

    The Bill of 'duh, dude, I don't do Bills, my parents do...'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Fergie, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 8:20am

    Tor servers

    well one way or the other something good will come of this! I now know what to introduce to people in the UAE, the government cracks down on everthing here and makes life in general miserable.(Can you call the royals Gov.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    jesme, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 11:47am

    And the funny thing is...

    ...Tor was originally developed by...the US Navy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    jsaltz, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 3:48pm

    Tor is a technology. And it is not an abomination. 'nuff said.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    larryk, Sep 14th, 2006 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re: Funny

    "Pro business" in this context means freedom for corporations, the customer be damned. A real libertarian (small L) cares about individuals - real people, not just corporations which are creatures of the State in the first place. Real libertarians oppose Big Government when it manifests itself as warrantless spying, detention without trial, state-sponsored torture, excessive secrecy and classification of information, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Lereks, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 2:21am

    If you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about

    Absolutely agree that this phrase is the signal for you. I prefer use anonymous surfing, as vpn, and suppose this is a normal situation. Why our right to have a private life can be violated under such argumentation?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Advertisement - Amazon Prime Music
Hide this ad »


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.