[tor-relays] Suggestions for Tor Relay Operators after a Police interaction

Andrew Lewman andrew at torproject.is
Fri Nov 30 14:14:34 UTC 2012

# Suggestions for Tor Relay Operators after a Police interaction

Disclaimer: We are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice. This is
friendly advice from those of us at Tor who work with relay operators
after a police visit or raid. This is a collection of suggestions of
what we've gathered from five years of helping people like you. Exit
relay operator visits are exceedingly rare. You are in the 1% of
operators ever visited or even raided by a police force.

If you're reading this message, then you probably have a poor
photocopy of the warrant the police served to you. The warrant may
mention Tor and some suspected criminal activity (such as terrorism,
money laundering, child abuse materials, or copyright violations).

1. Read the EFF legal FAQ for relay operators,

2. Find legal representation. A list of possible legal advisers can be
found here,
https://blog.torproject.org/blog/start-tor-legal-support-directory. If
none of these people are in your country, or close to you, ask either
the EFF or Tor Project. We can likely help you find someone in your

3. Get a copy of the full warrant. There is a generally a process to get
a full copy of the warrant. It will have details you'll need to know to
defend yourself. At a minimum, it's likely to have a timestamp and IP
address of your exit relay.

4. Make sure the IP address in question is your exit relay and was a
valid relay at the time in question. We make available the exonerator
tool to look through the entire history of the Tor Network to find your
relay, https://metrics.torproject.org/exonerator.html.

5. Get in touch with The Tor Project, preferably by email, see
https://www.torproject.org/about/contact for finding ways to reach us.
If you need someone official to explain Tor to either a bondsman, judge,
or the police, generally phone works best,
https://www.torproject.org/about/contact#phone. When you contact Tor, we
need the following details in order to help you maintain your innocence:

 - The IP address of each relay.
 - The timestamp (date and time of day) for each IP address in the
 - How to reach you or your legal adviser.

6. Likely, your legal adviser is going to want a signed, notarized,
official letter from the Tor Project stating the IP address was or was
not an exit relay at the date and time in question. They are going to
want this mailed via trackable method (FedEx, UPS, DHL, registered mail,
etc). We need to know if you want one letter per IP/timestamp
combination, or if we can put everything into one letter.

Best of luck going forward. The police generally only receive an IP
address and a street address. They do not know it is a tor exit relay.
Some national police forces in Europe and North America are
sophisticated enough to determine "tor or not" before they execute a
warrant. Generally, but not always, these national police forces send
detectives to interview you (known as a "knock and talk"), rather than
send in a SWAT team (known as a raid). The press repeats the SWAT team
stories because it generates page views for their organization. It's
not the norm.

Tor is available for further help, whether it be as an expert witness,
further explanations of how Tor works, etc. Just ask for help, we're
happy to do so. By sharing your experience with us, you also help us to
help law enforcement understand Tor better in the future. Thanks for
sharing and thanks for running a relay.

pgp 0x6B4D6475

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