[tor-relays] Registration of a Tor node at the German Bundesnetzagentur

Fabian Keil freebsd-listen at fabiankeil.de
Wed Jan 2 12:34:27 UTC 2013

tor-admin <tor-admin at torland.me> wrote:

> this is a question more specific for the German jurisdiction. At the 29C3 in 
> Hamburg I attended a interesting talk about open WIFI (http://is.gd/9G8AVA 
> unfortunately in German) who was given by Reto Mantz 
> (http://www.offenenetze.de/). 
> He gave the advice to register open WIFIs which are operated by non-profits at 
> the German Bundesnetzagentur, because this is required under German law for 
> companies (http://is.gd/vcz2pZ). I am wondering if there are Tor nodes 
> operated by Germans who have been registered at the Bundesnetzagentur. From my 
> layman’s understanding of the law this should at least be required for nodes 
> operated by German non-profits like CCC and Torservers. I am specially 
> interested in the case of a node which runs in a data center outside of 
> Germany but is operated by a German non-profit.

A couple of years ago I was contacted by the Bundesnetzagentur which
somehow noticed that I was running Tor relays (in Germany) and pretended
that I was legally required to formally register them. They didn't bother
backing this claim up, of course.

IIRC the form they send me was six pages long and looked like it was
intended for commercial ISPs.

After I ignored their request for a while they threatened a fine of
a few thousand Euros which in a later letter was even increased a bit
which seemed somewhat silly to me as the fine was intended for the
exact same thing (not registering).

I finally told them that I didn't recognise them as authority for my
Tor relays and that I had no intent to register anything.

As I haven't heart back from them I assume the case got closed after
they talked to their lawyers.

All in all (I also occasionally had to indirectly deal with them at
a previous job) my impression is that the Bundesnetzagentur are a bunch
of incompetent clowns with too much time on their hands and no proper

> As I operate my nodes privately I am unsure if registration of my tor nodes is 
> required. I will check with my lawyer if a registration should be done and 
> could help to run the nodes more securely concerning law enforcement. Having 
> information from others would help to clarify this.

I doubt that registering with the Bundesnetzagentur would significantly
affect the risk of problems with law enforcement agencies.

I you run exit relays I think it makes sense to voluntary inform
the local police about them to decrease the risks of raids,
but even that doesn't always work reliably.

While I was living in Overath I "registered" my relays with the
Police in Rösrath (who always acted very professionally and respectful).

Several years later "Internet crime experts" coming from the police
in Bergisch Gladbach (pretty close to Rösrath) made first contact by
executing a Durchsuchungsbeschluss (search warrant) that didn't mention
Tor in any way ...

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