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 <h2>The Legal FAQ for Tor Relay Operators.</h2>
 <p><strong>FAQ written by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Last
 updated April 21, 2014.</strong></p>
 <p><em>NOTE: This FAQ is for informational purposes only and does not
 constitute legal advice. Our aim is to provide a general description of
 the legal issues surrounding Tor in the United States. Different factual
 situations and different legal jurisdictions will result in different
 answers to a number of questions. Therefore, please do not act on this
 information alone; if you have any specific legal problems, issues,
 or questions, seek a complete review of your situation with a lawyer
 licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.</em></p>
 <p>Also, if you received this
 document from anywhere besides the EFF web site or <a
 href="<page eff/tor-legal-faq>">https://www.torproject.org/eff/tor-legal-faq.html</a>,
 it may be out of date. Follow the link to get the latest version.</p>
 <p>Got a DMCA notice? Check out our <a href="<page
 eff/tor-dmca-response>">sample response letter</a>!</p>
 <h2>General Information</h2>
 <h3>Has anyone ever been sued or prosecuted for running Tor?</h3>
 <p><b>No</b>, we aren't aware of anyone being sued or prosecuted in the
 United States just for running a Tor relay. Further, we believe that
 running a Tor relay &mdash; including an exit relay that allows people to
 anonymously send and receive traffic &mdash; is legal under U.S. law.</p>
 <h3>Should I use Tor or encourage the use of Tor for illegal purposes?</h3>
 <p><b>No.</b> Tor has been developed to be a tool for free expression,
 privacy, and human rights. It is not a tool designed or intended to be
 used to break the law, either by Tor users or Tor relay operators.</p>
 <h3>Can EFF promise that I won't get in trouble for running a Tor
 <p><b>No.</b> All new technologies create legal uncertainties, and Tor
 is no exception. We cannot guarantee that you will never face any legal
 liability as a result of running a Tor relay. However, EFF believes so
 strongly that those running Tor relays shouldn't be liable for traffic
 that passes through the relay that we're running our own middle relay.</p>
 <h3>Will EFF represent me if I get in trouble for running a Tor relay?</h3>
 <p><b>Maybe.</b> While EFF cannot promise legal representation for all Tor
 relay operators, it will assist relay operators in assessing the situation
 and will try to locate qualified legal counsel when necessary. Inquiries
 to EFF for the purpose of securing legal representation or referrals
 should be directed to our intake coordinator by sending an email to <a
 href="mailto:info@eff.org">info@eff.org</a> . Such inquiries will be kept
 confidential subject to the limits of the attorney/client privilege. Note
 that although EFF cannot practice law outside of the United States,
 it will still try to assist non-U.S. relay operators in finding local
 <h3>Should I contact the Tor developers when I have legal questions
 about Tor or to inform them if I suspect Tor is being used for illegal
 <p><b>No.</b> Tor's developers are available to answer technical
 questions, but they are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice. Nor do
 they have any ability to prevent illegal activity that may occur through
 Tor relays. Furthermore, your communications with Tor's developers
 are not protected by any legal privilege, so law enforcement or civil
 litigants could subpoena and obtain any information you give to them.</p>
 <p>You can contact <a href="mailto:info@eff.org">info@eff.org</a> if
 you face a specific legal issue. We will try to assist you, but given
 EFF's small size, we cannot guarantee that we can help everyone.</p>
 <h3>Do Tor's core developers make any promises about the trustworthiness
 or reliability of Tor relays that are listed in their directory?</h3>
 <p><b>No.</b> Although the developers attempt to verify that Tor relays
 listed in the directory maintained by the core developers are stable
 and have adequate bandwidth, neither they nor EFF can guarantee the
 personal trustworthiness or reliability of the individuals who run those
 relays. Tor's core developers further reserve the right to refuse a Tor
 relay operator's request to be listed in their directory or to remove
 any relay from their directory for any reason.</p>
 <h2>Exit Relays</h2>
 <p>Exit relays raise special concerns because the traffic that exits
 from them can be traced back to the relay's IP address. While we believe
 that running an exit relay is legal, it is statistically likely that an
 exit relay will at some point be used for illegal purposes, which may
 attract the attention of private litigants or law enforcement. An exit
 relay may forward traffic that is considered unlawful, and that traffic
 may be attributed to the operator of a relay. If you are not willing to
 deal with that risk, a bridge or middle relay may be a better fit for
 you. These relays do not directly forward traffic to the Internet and so
 can't be easily mistaken for the origin of allegedly unlawful content.</p>
 <p>The Tor Project's blog has some excellent <a
 for running an exit with as little risk as possible. We suggest that
 you review their advice before setting up an exit relay.</p>
 <h3>Should I run an exit relay from my home?</h3>
 <p><b>No.</b> If law enforcement becomes interested in traffic from your
 exit relay, it's possible that officers will seize your computer. For
 that reason, it's best not to run your exit relay in your home or using
 your home Internet connection.</p>
 <p>Instead, consider running your exit relay in a <a
 facility</a> that is supportive of Tor. Have a separate IP address for
 your exit relay, and don't route your own traffic through it.</p>
 <p>Of course, you should avoid keeping any sensitive or personal
 information on the computer hosting your exit relay, and you never should
 use that machine for any illegal purpose.</p>
 <h3>Should I tell my ISP that I'm running an exit relay?</h3>
 <p><b>Yes.</b> Make sure you have a Tor-friendly ISP that
 knows you're running an exit relay and supports you in that
 goal. This will help ensure that your Internet access isn't
 cut off due to abuse complaints. The Tor community maintains a <a
 of ISPs that are particularly Tor-savvy, as well as ones that aren't.</p>
 <h3>Is it a good idea to let others know that I'm running an exit relay?</h3>
 <p><b>Yes.</b> Be as transparent as possible about the fact that you're
 running an exit relay. If your exit traffic draws the attention of
 the government or disgruntled private party, you want them to figure
 out quickly and easily that you are part of the Tor network and not
 responsible for the content. This could mean the difference between
 having your computer seized by law enforcement and being left alone.</p>
 <p>The Tor Project <a
 the following ways to let others know that you're running an exit
 <li>Set up a reverse DNS name for the IP address that makes clear that
 the computer is an exit relay.</li>
 <li>Set up a notice like <a
 to explain that you're running an exit relay that's part of the Tor
 <li>If possible, get an <a href="https://www.arin.net/">ARIN</a>
 registration for your exit relay that displays contact information for
 you, not your ISP. This way, you'll receive any abuse complaints and
 can respond to them directly. Otherwise, try to ensure that your ISP
 forwards abuse complaints that it receives to you.</li>
 <h3>Should I snoop on the plaintext traffic that exits through my Tor
 <p><b>No.</b> You may be technically capable of modifying the Tor source
 code or installing additional software to monitor or log plaintext that
 exits your relay. However, Tor relay operators in the United States
 can possibly create civil and even criminal liability for themselves
 under state or federal wiretap laws if they monitor, log, or disclose
 Tor users' communications, while non-U.S. operators may be subject
 to similar laws. Do not examine anyone's communications without first
 talking to a lawyer.</p>
 <h3>If I receive a subpoena or other information request from law
 enforcement or anyone else related to my Tor relay, what should I do?</h3>
 <p><b>Educate them about Tor.</b> In most instances, properly configured
 Tor relays will have no useful data for inquiring parties, and you should
 feel free to educate them on this point. To the extent you do maintain
 logs, however, you should not disclose them to any third party without
 first consulting a lawyer. In the United States, such a disclosure may
 violate the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and relay operators
 outside of the United States may be subject to similar data protection
 <p>You may receive legal inquiries where you are prohibited by law from
 telling anyone about the request. We believe that, at least in the United
 States, such gag orders do not prevent you from talking to a lawyer,
 including calling a lawyer to find representation. Inquiries to EFF
 for the purpose of securing legal representation should be directed to
 our intake coordinator (info at eff.org) Such inquiries will be kept
 confidential subject to the limits of the attorney/client privilege.</p>
 <p>For more information about responding to abuse
 complaints and other inquiries, check out the <a
 href="<page docs/faq-abuse>">Tor
 Abuse FAQ</a> and the collection of <a
 response templates</a> on the Tor Project’s website.</p>
 <p>For information on what to do if law enforcement
 seeks access to your digital devices, check out EFF’s <a
 href="https://www.eff.org/wp/know-your-rights">Know Your Rights</a>
 <h3>My ISP, university, etc. just sent me a DMCA notice. What should
 I do?</h3>
 <p>EFF has written a <a href="<page eff/tor-dmca-response>">short
 template</a> to help you write a response to your ISP, university, etc.,
 to let them know about the details of the Digital Millennium Copyright
 Act’s safe harbor, and how Tor fits in. Note that template only
 refers to U.S. jurisdictions, and is intended only to address copyright
 complaints that are based on a relay of allegedly infringing material
 through the Tor node.</p>
 <p>If you like, you should consider submitting a copy of your notice to
 <a href="https://www.chillingeffects.org/">Chilling Effects</a>. This
 will help us recognize trends and issues that the lawyers might want to
 focus on. Chilling Effects encourages submissions from people outside
 the United States too.</p>
 <p>EFF believes that Tor relays should be protected from copyright
 liability for the acts of their users because a Tor relay operator
 can raise an immunity defense under the DMCA as well as defenses
 under copyright's secondary liability doctrines. However, no court
 has yet addressed these issues in the context of Tor itself. If
 you are uncomfortable with this uncertainty, you may consider using
 a <href="<page docs/faq>#ExitPolicies">reduced exit policy</a> (such
 as the default policy suggested by the Tor Project) to try to minimize
 traffic types that are often targeted in copyright complaints.</p>
 <p>If you are a Tor relay operator willing to stand up and help set
 a clear legal precedent establishing that merely running a relay
 does not create copyright liability for either operators or their
 bandwidth providers, EFF is interested in hearing from you. Read more <a
 about being EFF's test case.</p>
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