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

Kate ailanthus at riseup.net
Thu Jul 13 03:08:00 UTC 2017

Matthew Finkel:
> 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.
> https://blog.torproject.org/blog/ethiopia-introduces-deep-packet-inspection
> http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18461292
Hi all,

Tor also appears to have been banned in Belarus in 2015 and blocked in
late 2016:


It matters whether Tor users can be detained for being Tor users under
local laws, just for ethical reasons, whether we can protect them or not.

Question for Nima or others: Does it matter if there is a very small
number of Tor users in a given country? Can they actually be targeted
because of that?

> - 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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