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<h2>The Legal FAQ for Tor Relay Operators.</h2>

<p>FAQ written by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (<a
href="https://www.eff.org">EFF</a>). Last updated August 24, 2011.</p>
<p>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.</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it may be out of date.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
<h2>General Information</h2>
<p><b>Has anyone ever been sued or prosecuted for running Tor?</b></p>

<p><b>No</b>, we aren’t aware of anyone being sued or prosecuted in the
United States for running a Tor relay.  Further, we believe that running
a Tor relay &#8212; including an exit relay that allows people to
anonymously send and receive traffic &#8212; is lawful under U.S.
<p><b>Should I use Tor or encourage the use of Tor for illegal
<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>
<p><b>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. Presently, no court has ever considered any case
involving the Tor technology, and we therefore 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>

<p><b>Will EFF represent me if I get in trouble for running a Tor
<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 (<a
href="mailto:info@eff.org">info@eff.org</a> or US +1 (415) 436-9333).
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 representation.</p>
<p><b>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
<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>

<p><b>Do Tor's core developers make any promises about the
trustworthiness or reliability of Tor relays that are listed in their
<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 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
<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>
<p><b>Should I run an exit relay from my home?</b></p>

<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>
<p><b>Should I tell my ISP that I'm running an exit relay?</b></p>
<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

<p><b>Is it a good idea to let others know that I'm running an exit
<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>
<p><b>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 the contents of anyone's communications
without first talking to a lawyer.</p>
<p><b>If I receive a subpoena or other information request from law
enforcement or anyone else related to my Tor relay, what should I
<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 laws.</p>

<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 or US +1 (415) 436-9333).
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><b>My ISP, university, etc. just sent me a DMCA notice. What should I
<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 are protected from copyright liability
under the DMCA, although no court has yet addressed the issue in the
context of Tor itself. If you are uncomfortable with this uncertainty,
you may consider using a <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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