Alexander Janssen had just returned from a night of drinking when someone knocked "very hard" on his door — in the dead of the night.
German police then entered his apartment and proceeded to cuff him while they ransacked his house for allegedly posting bomb threats in a German forum related to law enforcement. Despite his protestations that he operated a Tor server, which typically funnels 40 GB of data per day, he was taken back to a police station and interrogated.
Janssen was subsequently released by a federal German official who acknowledged that a mistake has been made. However, Janssen has decided to abandon his Tor activities in the wake of this incident.
He wrote in a detailed blog entry:
I've shut down my Tor-server. I can't do this any more, my wife and I were scared to death. I'm at the end of my civil courage. I'll keep engaged in the Tor-project but I won't run a server any more. Sorry. No.
Okay, question time. If 40 GB of other folk's Internet traffic flows through your home server, can the police, or RIAA for that matter, link whatever nefarious activities tracked to your computer's node to you?
On the other hand, are we courting trouble by running an anonymizing server in the first place? A police investigation needs to start somewhere after all, and it seems implausible that any investigations will bypass you simply because you run an open gateway.
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.