by CIO Staff

German Police Seize ‘Anonymizing’ Tor Servers

Sep 11, 20062 mins

In a crackdown on Internet child pornography, German police detected several servers running a copy of Tor, a software designed to anonymize Internet usage.

“We seized or blocked an undisclosed number of servers during a raid, which is still under way,” Jens Gruhl, a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office of Konstanz, Germany, said Monday. “A few of these computers had installed copies of Tor.”

Users of Tor software in the country, worried about an unexpected visit by the police, have decried the move in a flurry of blogs.

“This situation is disturbing, really disturbing,” wrote Alexander Janssen from Dusseldorf, Germany, in a blog. “I run a Tor server myself and the last thing I want to experience is the police kicking down my door [and] seizing my computer.”

Gruhl said German crime officials are not specifically searching for servers running Tor, but for servers distributing child porn. “That fact that police discovered copies of Tor is coincidental, not intentional.”

In his blog, Janssen said he believed the seized servers were configured to be so-called Tor “exit nodes,” allowing their IP addresses to show up in the server logfiles in question.

Tor was created to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that “threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships and state security,” according to the website

The software bounces communications around a distributed network of servers, called onion routers, protecting users from websites that build profiles of their interests, local eavesdroppers who read data or learn what sites they visit, and even the onion routers themselves.

-John Blau, IDG News Service (Dusseldorf Bureau)

Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.