Legal response to real abuse

Wendy Seltzer wseltzer at
Sat Aug 7 19:49:37 UTC 2010

  On Sat, Aug 7, 2010 at 2:48 AM, Mike Perry <mikeperry at> wrote:
> Ideally, it would be great to hear from Wendy, Seth, and/or Peter to

You called?  :)

As far as the law goes, ISPs should not face liability for users' bad
acts if they do not specifically assist or benefit from them.  They
offer general-purpose transit (like, but not quite the same as common
carriage, which is defined by law both to prohibit discrimination and
to remove liability).  Tor node operators should be in a similar
position -- we're offering general purpose technology, for plenty of
uses recognized as lawful, and can't block particular uses without
breaking the generality and limiting the functionality of the node.
This is mostly common law (contributory and vicarious liability, or
aiding and abetting), not statute.

Unfortunately, what the ISP can lawfully do, and what it chooses to
allow customers to do are often far apart.  They're often motivated by
how much nuisance someone else causes them, rather than the law.  If
you can share with me (wendy at some of the complaints, I
will think about additional responses to use in the persuasion.


Wendy Seltzer
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