[tor-project] Are there countries where using Tor is illegal?

Matthew Finkel matthew.finkel at gmail.com
Thu Jul 13 02:17:09 UTC 2017

On Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 10:26:51PM +0200, Cristian Consonni wrote:
> Hi,
> (Sorry if this question has already been asked in the past, feel free to
> point me to the relevant resources.)
> I know that the legal FAQs by the EFF state that:
> «we believe that running a Tor relay — including an exit relay that
> allows people to anonymously send and receive traffic — is legal under
> U.S. law.»[1]
> I also know there is a list of countries for which there is legislation
> that exclude communication service providers from liability. They are
> indicated in the Legal of the Tor Exit Guidelines page[2], they are USA,
> Germany, Netherlands, Austria, France, and Sweden.
> From some articles in the press[3a][3b] it may be illegal - depending on
> how you interpret the wording[*] - to use Tor (and other technologies
> such as VPNs or proxies) in the UAE, with fines ranging in the millions
> of dirhams (hundreds of thousand of dollars).
> A couple of weeks ago it was discussed - on this list as well - that a
> law was introduced to the state parliament to ban Tor[4a][4b]. This
> follows a case of some months ago of a Russian Tor exit node operator
> being arrested for inciting mass riots and terrorism[4c][4d]. The idea
> of blocking VPNs or Tor seems to have already been considered in the
> past[4e].
> This infographic about pluggable transports[5] suggests access to the
> Tor network is censored or limited in China, Uzbekistan, Iran, and
> Kazakhstan. Tor being censored orblocked may be different from it being
> illegal.
> What about other countries? Is there a place where I can find more about
> this topic?

Hi Cristian,

The easy answer is no. Over the years, some of us have heard/read different
countries classify Tor as illegal. The actual meaning of this is often not
clear (tor client? tor relay? advocating the use of tor?). As a community,
we don't have anywhere near the army of volunteer lawyers we'd need to
say with certainty that Tor is illegal (and what that means) in every country.

Off the top of my head, the only other country I've hear about is Ethiopia,
but that was a few years ago and I don't know the current status of it.


- Matt

> Cristian
> [1]: https://www.torproject.org/eff/tor-legal-faq.html.en
> [2]: https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/TorExitGuidelines
> [3a]:
> http://www.emirates247.com/news/emirates/dh500-000-fine-if-you-use-fraud-ip-in-uae-2016-07-22-1.636441
> [3b]:
> http://news.softpedia.com/news/people-caught-using-vpns-tor-or-proxies-in-the-uae-risk-a-545-000-fine-506729.shtml
> [*]: «Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP
> address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other
> means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery»
> [4a]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2017-June/043293.html
> [4b]: https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/ticket/22055
> [4c]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2017-April/043109.html
> [4d]: https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/24/dmitry-bogatov-tor-russia/
> [4e];
> https://torrentfreak.com/vpn-and-tor-ban-looming-on-the-horizon-for-russia-150212/
> [5]: https://www.torproject.org/images/PT/2016-07-how-to-use-PT.png
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