An Austrian man has been found guilty after child sex abuse material transited his Tor exit relay.
administrator William Weber was charged in November last year after
state police raided his home confiscating 20 computers, gaming consoles
and devices after one of his seven global Tor exit relays funneled the
On 1 July, Weber was found guilty by a criminal court, given three years' probation and told he'll pay an expected €30,000 in court and legal costs.
exit relays are critical because they serve as stepping stones where
user traffic could leave the popular proxy network and enter the public
web. That arrangement leaves operators of the relays in a dangerous
place because they could be liable for any malicious traffic leaving
Weber said he lacked sufficient money and motivation to appeal the case.
I simply can't afford it anymore, donations covered a lot of lawyer
fees but I had to use my entire money on this case as well [and] I’m now
bankrupt and the [court] costs does not help with it either," Weber said.
Prosecutors were in possession of chat logs
where Weber allegedly promoted the use of Tor for a host of uses
including child pornography -- a statement he argued was taken out of
context and was made in a conversation with security blogger Brian Krebs
about a botnet gang.
Users in various forums have reacted angrily
to the ruling, with many arguments saying it was tantamount to blaming
the postal service for mailing illicit material or making ISPs
accountable for piracy over their networks (incidentally a move
currently being considered by Australia's conservative Federal
Online rights campaigner Moritz Bartl promoted the operating of exit relays through torsevers.net and was one voice among the rabble suggesting Weber could find success on appeal.
"We strongly believe that it can be easily challenged," Bartl said.
certainly shocking, lower court rulings should not be taken too
seriously, and this won't necessarily mean that all Tor relays in
Austria are now automatically illegal."
Bartl was seeking legal assistance for Weber and urged any exit relay operator in hot water to contact torservers.
He would reserve further judgement on the Weber case until he had properly consulted with legal eagles.
The privacy advocate known as MacLemon claimed
the ruling contradicted so-called 'Provider's privileges' safeguards
that protect network operators from liability for traffic transiting
their pipes. It could also clash with an EU directive safeguarding
service providers as 'mere conduits' provided they did not modify data.
The ruling comes at a bad time for the Electronic Frontiers Foundation which on the same day as the ruling issued a blog promoting the use of Tor.