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Re: Why TOR Operators SHOULD always sniff their exit traffic...

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Parker Thompson wrote:

> My question is, what kinds of traffic analysis are legal (and ethical,
> if you wish to speak to that), and would this be dependent on context?
>  For example, would it be legal for an academic in the course of
> research, but illegal for an ISP?  And if there are cases where it's
> appropriate to treat Tor as more than a black box, are there
> recommended/"approved" methods/tools for analyzing traffic.

We know another person who wanted to analyze Tor traffic coming out of
exit nodes for academic research, and I'm not sure where he ended up,
legally speaking. There were thorny issues, although I think he planned
to scrub and aggregate the traffic. I don't know if he ever went through
with it, although I think we would have heard from him if so since he's
a friend.

Lawyers tend to advise their clients to take the least risky and safest
path. In this traffic sniffing example, it's obviously safest not to go
anywhere near violating the Wiretap Act. The surveillance laws and
related case law are not as clear-cut as we might hope them to be, and
surprising results sometimes come out of the courts on these topics. (I
helped with the drafting of a brief by EPIC in the Brad Councilman case,
for example. That was a weird one, although note that it had to do with
stored communications, not communications in transit; and that the law
distinguishes between the two.)

I am not a lawyer, but as the Tor legal FAQ says, you can contact our
privacy/surveillance/speech lawyer Kevin Bankston if you want to get
legal information, or if you want to get help finding representation.

(Please, everyone, don't spam Kevin with frivolous questions.)

> And second, on a different track, the possibly evil operator in this
> thread suggests that security through nobility is not good policy; it
> leads to undiscovered vulnerabilities and a false sense of security.

Nobody, least of all me, ever suggested that security through nobility
is a good idea.

> That said, I think the network could benefit from good operators
> doing their best to find vulnerabilities that an actual evil operator
> could find/exploit.

Certainly. It's also possible to do so without going anywhere near the
Wiretap or other Acts, such as by auditing the code, black-box testing
techniques like fuzzing, running a Tor network on private hardware that
3rd parties are not using in production and tcpdumping that, and so on.

> May I ask, do you agree that hostility, within the law or subject to
> some (yet defined) set of ethical guidelines should be encouraged?  I
> know you guys like to wax philosophical over there (and then blog it).
>  I would be very interested in a legal/ethical/technical analysis of
> this issue if someone is up for commenting on it.

If you want to do a white hat pen test kind of thing on the public Tor
network, please talk to 90,000 lawyers first and notify the whole world.
:) Kevin will probably have a strong opinion on that.
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