Joachim Breitner

Tor exit node shut down by server4you

Published 2011-03-02 in sections English, Digital World.

As mentioned earlier this week, I changed the server for my hoster from server4you to Hetzner. Because the contract for my old server is still running until the 14th of April, I thought I can make some good use of it by running an Tor exit node on it. Tor, “The onion router” is a world-wide network of server to anonymize network connections, and used for example by freedom-loving people in repressive countries, or by Facebook users in repressively proxied university networks…

Naturally, such a system is also used by people with lesser motives, and after nearly one week of running the server, some complaints were reaching server4you – a honeynet supposedly detected botnet activity from my IP address, another company hired by Paramount Pictures claimed that someone downloaded “Iron Man 2” over BitTorrent via my server. These were forwarded to my by server4you, demanding an explanation. I explained that I am running a Tor node, that such things are unavailable, and that neither I nor server4you is going to be held responsible.

Nevertheless, they insist that I should stop whatever I am doing (I am not sure if they really understood what tor is), and when I said that I won’t, they decided to unilaterally and immediately end my contract by tomorrow. Thus a powerful exit node that might have made life better for Tor users is doing to disappear again. They will not reimburse the advance fee that I had paid in advance and made a non-specific threat about further claims they might have.

So server4you was, at least in my case, not only an unreliable and inflexible provider, they also prefer to cut off their customer’s server just because of two complaints by third parties. I conclude that this is not a hoster that you should trust important services to.

And I am not a unique case: There are reports of similar server shut-downs by server4you (in German).


Your choice of explanations can matter a lot. Do you know about the EFF's sample response letter for DMCA notices, at ?
#1 Anonymous am 2011-03-02
Thanks for the links. Unfortunately, the proxy here at IIT Bombay blocks access to, so I have to use tor to access it.

(Ok, not true, I use SSH tunneling to access it, but still...)
#2 Joachim Breitner (Homepage) am 2011-03-03
ISPs know exactly what Tor is, and they know that you are running it as soon as your IP address shows up on the node list. Some don't tolerate exits. The same ISPs won't shut down people that get DMCA notices for actually seeding torrents themselves. You were shut down because of Tor and no other reason.
#3 Heya am 2011-03-02
Good job pretending to be well-informed.

I work at an ISP and I can assure you I have several colleagues who know very well what Tor is, and lots of colleagues who've never heard of it.

BTW, here in Germany, we don't care about "DMCA notices". But we do have laws of our own, some of which may apply running a Tor exit node - the people writing those laws certainly have never heard of Tor.
#4 Michael Goetze am 2011-03-03
The condition of "an ISP knows what Tor is" does not equate to "every employee at the ISP knows what Tor is"? When one person handles multiple complaints from multiple Tor exits, and they all explain to the person what Tor is, then the person should no longer claim to not know what Tor is. Doing so is willful ignorance. In those cases, it's easier to pretend to not understand what is happening and simply cut off service rather than debate the merits of taking down a Tor exit.

I am also in Germany, and I can torrent all I like without getting my Internet turned off. If I were to start operating a Tor exit, I would get shut down right away. The reason for that is that my IP address would then appear on my ISPs list of Tor exits.
#5 Anonymous am 2011-03-06
German lawmakers as well a German courts are familiar with anonymization schemes. Tor is the most well-known such system.
#6 Anonymous am 2011-03-06
Sysadmins are tin-pot tyrants. They look to violate even Terms of Service agreements when their false sense of morality is threatened.

I asked linode to host something for me, it would have code exploits (imagine if you mirror a seclist). And they said NO even though their TOS didn't say anything about. Dreamhost has previously made up TOS points.

In short Sysadmins are often little fascists who don't care about business concerns or freedom. If they cared about freedom they wouldn't act so uniformly authoritarian.
#7 Anonymous am 2011-03-03
Hi. I used to run a dedicated Tor server in Germany back in 2006. I bought a one year hosting contract, and after 3 or 4 months they terminated our server. They refused to refund our money. My friend and I got in contact with a German lawyer at CCC who, pro bono, sent a letter to the hosting company and got them to reimburse us for the unused portion of our contract. The lawyer said that we could have asked to be compensated for the cost of moving to another hosting company if we wanted to.

If you email me, I can probably dig up the email address of the lawyer we used. He may be able to help, or at least give you some advise.

German law may have changed since 2006.

Good luck.
#8 Russell am 2011-03-07
Sounds tempting, although not sure if it worth the hassle for ~30€. On the other hand, it would maybe be worth it just for the sake of telling the provider to be nicer to tor node hosters.
#9 Joachim Breitner (Homepage) am 2011-03-07
I would be interested in the address of the lawyer. I am experimenting with JonDoFox, using my german server4you account to browse through an SSH channel. I am experiencing server failures and I wonder what is going on.
#10 Markus Schaal am 2011-03-08

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