German data rentention law
arma at mit.edu
Sat Oct 18 13:13:53 PDT 2008
On Sat, Oct 18, 2008 at 10:49:08AM +0200, Karsten N. wrote:
> Together with the JonDos GmbH (JAP) the GPF try to get a legal
> non-logging solution for tor, but the result is open and we are late.
The JonDos folks are nice people, but they seem to be taking the approach
"let's work with law enforcement to comply with what they wanted the law
to include." I would rather take the approach "let's figure out how we
can keep Tor users and relay operators as safe as possible even if ISPs
in Germany start logging things."
Talking with law enforcement is generally a good idea, but asking them
for clarification and then believing that's the law may not be such a
> II. part: suggestion of a technical solution
> May be, tor can use geoip and divide the world in a logging area and a
> non-logging area. If the target host is inside the logging area
> (Germany), the exit node has to be outside. Otherwise a german node
> can be an exit too.
In my opinion we really have to look at the endpoints of the Tor circuit,
which is where Tor is most vulnerable (via end-to-end correlation
attacks): we are worried about A) an attacker who can watch the Tor user,
or its network connection, or its entry relay; and B) an attacker who
can watch the destination site, or its network connection, or the exit
relay. From that perspective, an attacker who can watch the website
doesn't really care where the exit relay is -- he's already got that
half of the conversation, and if he can combine it with knowing something
about the beginning of the circuit, he wins.
Consider instead my proposal from last week on or-dev:
The basic proposal there is:
1) Never assign the Guard flag to Tor relays in Germany.
2) Maybe, consider starting circuits unpredictably before we want to
attach a stream to them (we already mostly do that, since we build
circuits preemptively), and closing circuits unpredictably after we are
done using them. The idea there is to make the TCP connection logs at
ISPs not correlate with when a given Tor stream started or stopped. I say
"maybe" because it's far from clear that all ISPs will be forced to log
TCP connection start and stop timestamps.
Note that this strategy is designed to make it safe to have Tor relays
running at *ISPs* that log. Even if no German Tor relays log, data
retention poses a serious risk to Tor users if enough ISPs are logging
There will be no such thing as a Tor relay that logs. (If you wish to
run a Tor relay that logs all its connections in a way that's useful
to attackers, please do us the favor of shutting it off instead. If you
find a way to keep logs that are absolutely useless but that you think
will keep the police from hassling you, please talk to us first.)
> Because not all clients will update to a new version very quickly,
Idea #1 above solves this issue: we can take the Guard flag away at the
authorities, so only the directory authorities need to upgrade.
> Otherwise, all german nodes have to switch to middle man.
Even if all German Tor relays became non-exit relays, we would still have
the worry that a user visited a German website using a German *entry*
point. According to our research if an attacker manages to get data from
both sides, this appears sufficient for linking the user to the website.
So no, I think that is not a sufficient fix. :)
In any case, I don't want to reach conclusions like "therefore all
German nodes have to stop providing exit service." The law is vague --
so let's fight the law, through lawsuits and other mechanisms, not try
to guess what it might mean and obey that guess.
There *will* be people in Germany who continue to run their Tor relay
(exit or not) and do not log anything. So we need to figure out how to
make successful test cases from the organizations that have the resources
and inclination to defend themselves. (This does mean, though, that
if you're running an exit relay in Germany and you're not comfortable
fighting this law, then you should consider becoming a non-exit in
January until things get more clear.)
There will be much more discussion at 25C3 I hope!
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