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"Anonymous" File-Sharing Darknet Ruled Illegal By German Court 285

Posted by timothy
from the your-virtual-papers-please dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A court in Hamburg, Germany, has granted an injunction against a user of the anonymous and encrypted file-sharing network RetroShare. RetroShare users exchange data through encrypted transfers and the network setup ensures that the true sender of the file is always obfuscated. The court, however, has now ruled that RetroShare users who act as an exit node are liable for the encrypted traffic that's sent by others."
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"Anonymous" File-Sharing Darknet Ruled Illegal By German Court

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @09:08PM (#42078489)

    Who thinks it will take long for the hackers to create malware that sets OTHERS up as unwitting exit nodes?

  • by Squiddie (1942230) on Friday November 23, 2012 @09:09PM (#42078497)
    About two days ago.
  • by garcia (6573) on Friday November 23, 2012 @09:12PM (#42078541) Homepage

    This is ridiculous. All common carriers then should be held liable for the network traffic that passes around.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Friday November 23, 2012 @09:15PM (#42078557)

    ...You might wonder why:

    That's because an IP address is not a human being [itworld.com] when it comes to matters of law.

    This is what our friendly folks in Germany will find out sooner or later. The trouble is that they'll have wasted so much time. Sad indeed.

  • by tftp (111690) on Friday November 23, 2012 @09:21PM (#42078587) Homepage

    The problem is not whether it is "legally" "legal." You cannot afford a lawyer that can argue that part. If the traffic came from your computer you are guilty, and that's it - this is how most judges will interpret the act. There is no way to prove otherwise - your incoming traffic is encrypted. Even if the judge understands the technology he may slap you with being an accessory to the crime.

    Some mention public telecommunications services. I'm sure those services have an entirely different legal environment - starting with their corporate charter that is signed by the Secretary of their State. A peasant in his hovel does not have even a shred of paper to point at; he is not a corporation, nobody with the government had a chance to audit his intentions... not that it should be required, but as things are it is required.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday November 23, 2012 @09:29PM (#42078635)

    Let's be honest: If you're doing something that someone with significantly more money than you is upset by, you will be punished. Most of what you were taught as a kid was a lie; The law isn't here to protect you, but control you. Every law advantages one group by disadvantaging another. And the idea of morality, ethics, punishment proportional to the harm, any judicial concept you care to toss out I can show numerous and significant examples where it has been thrown out because of the money issue I mention at the start of this.

    Money isn't power per-se, but in this society, the value of a person is the balance in their accounts. If you're a valuable person, you get special treatment -- police will investigate crimes for you more readily, favors are easier to get, and everybody wants to be your friend. But if you don't have money, then the only real power you have is that people like you greatly outnumber people like them. But unless that potential is actualized, forget it.

    Laws like this will continue to punish file sharers because file sharers are poor. You're being punished, not because what you're doing is unethical or immoral, but because you make less money than the people who say it should be illegal. Whether it's the german courts, the european courts, the american courts... it doesn't really matter. All countries are the same: With enough gold, anything is possible. And when you have enough gold, the first thing you do is punish and inflict harm on anyone who has less than you do... or else. Or else they could some day have enough gold too.

  • by fredprado (2569351) on Friday November 23, 2012 @09:51PM (#42078789)
    Anything can be arbitrarily deemed as "legitimate" or not. Google is not more or less legitimate than Piratebay it just have a much larger legal budget. Similarly no darknet is designed to do what you imply they where, they were designed to allow for people to freely transfer data (whatever type of data they see fit) without the fear of being persecuted by governments be it China, North Korea or US. The former will persecute you if do anything against the interests of the party, and the latter will persecute you if you do anything against the interests of corporations.
  • by Zorpheus (857617) on Friday November 23, 2012 @10:01PM (#42078847)
    But common carriers give police the names of the customer that was responsible for certain traffic.
  • by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Friday November 23, 2012 @10:07PM (#42078873)

    Technology shouldn't be deemed illegal because of the intents for which it was originally conceived. Or should we regulate microwave ovens like we regulate fighter jets?

  • by chilvence (1210312) on Friday November 23, 2012 @10:22PM (#42078927)

    I have to laugh at the copyright fundamentalist viewpoint, having seen with my own eyes that outside of western Europe and north America, it is taken about as seriously as a Lada full of Clowns trying to qualify for a formula one race... In some places even the idea that you could have 60 quid to waste on a computer game to begin with! But carry on living in your bubble, it is obviously our god given duty to ensure that imaginary property remains obscenely over valued, so that we can continue to produce the Bill Gates'es and Kanye Wests we all so heavily depend upon in society. It must be fun to imagine how much richer you would be if everyone just played fair...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @10:32PM (#42078995)

    ARM boards are so cheap and light on power that I bet people will be installing them out of sight wherever a trickle of current won't be detected.

    The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

    We expected this to happen in some 3rd world countries, not in our own, but it seems that we were wrong.

  • by guruevi (827432) <evi@@@smokingcube...be> on Friday November 23, 2012 @10:45PM (#42079039) Homepage

    Yes. We don't regulate either. You may have some issues obtaining a fighter jet given you don't have a couple of million dollars laying around to develop and build one but (certain rich) people regularly (once every couple of years) buy an old MIG or something similar to spruce up their back yard (at least that's what I imagine they do with it).

    I think there is a separate regulation on the 50mil cannons and rocketry on fighter jets for most states (or federally regulated) but that's an entirely different thing.

  • They are (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) on Friday November 23, 2012 @10:49PM (#42079051)

    if they don't provide law inforcement with the ability to tap into the traffic and identify its source and destination, and content too modulo user encryption. If you want to REGISTER your TOR network as a common carrier and be subjected to (in the US) CALEA then be my guest!

    This whole thing is the UTTERLY predictable response to the whole TOR thing. When you join a conspiracy to hide what everyone is doing then don't be surprised when you're held responsible for the actions of the whole group (network). When are hackers going to learn that you can't route around the law? You might fool it or avoid it for a while, but in the West at least public order will ALWAYS dictate that the authorities WILL be able to drop a hammer on you. That's what power IS.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday November 23, 2012 @11:06PM (#42079143)

    One might easily imagine a scenario where these encrypted darknets, perhaps aided by those whose machines were hacked and turned unknowingly into exit nodes, remain so difficult to penetrate that the effort will only be expended as part of larger military conflict between nations and not for what amounts to a relatively minor economic matter like copyright.

    One might imagine that instead of imagining, one simply looks to history: When PGP 2.6.2 was released, it opened the possibilities of encrypted and secured data exchange between private citizens that the government could not easily crack. Citizens now had access to technology only the military had, and it proliferated rapidly. It led to the rapid expansion of the internet, secured business transactions; It made quite a few people very wealthy, and changed the entire landscape of society. Our society now relies on something that was, not even all that long ago, considered to have no practical application beyond military conflict.

    And now, private citizens are building their own technologies and tools to withstand the sustained efforts of a coalition of the world's largest governments to spy on them. It's being used to help people organize politically and socially in oppressive regimes, bring medicine and information about the outside world to those who otherwise could not. It's also helping terrorists, pedophiles, and murderers. There is good, and there is bad, but encrypted "darknets" are increasingly a part of our lives, and looking at the history, it's only a matter of time before outlawing them will not only be impossible and foolhearty, but also not in the best interests of national security.

    When I hear about this endless bullshit with the RIAA, copyright law, filesharing... I realize that they're helping to create a digital underground not unlike what happened during the prohibition. Thanks to them, identity thieves have convenient and covert forums to ply their trade, and a lot of that money winds up in the hands of terrorists and political extremists both foreign and domestic. Because they've targetted such a wide swath of the general population and forced them to develop effective defenses against snooping, they've made it easier for those truly damaging to our interests to hide in the noise. It speeds the development of ever-stronger crypto and secret communication channels.

    Would we really need cryptography if the governments, corporations, and wealthy private interests, were not so aggressive in turning everyone into a criminal? No. Which means crypto communications would be easily spotted, and it would be easier to monitor and track the truly dangerous. It is a direct consequence of heavy-handed tactics like this that has created a significant and well-connected network of "cyber" criminals; In the beginning we had Napster. Now we have bittorrent and P2P software. You know who else has those? Bot herders. Identity thieves. Non-criminals developed the technology to protect themselves from over-zealous enforcement agents, and as a consequence hundreds of millions of computers right now are engaged in acts of terrorism, vandalism, sabotage, and theft, on a scale that is hard to even comprehend. The size of these criminal enterprises dwarfs that of the entire entertainment industry, globally.

    By the time the governments of the world wake up and realize what they've done, we'll be looking at a global criminal infrastructure mated to our communication networks, with a robust distribution network thanks to the drug trade, that not even a coalition of every first world government will have a snowball's chance in hell of dismantling. All because they listened to a few people out to make a buck, and conveniently forgot the law of unintended consequences.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @11:58PM (#42079429)

    I don't understand how anyone has a problem with this.

    Anyone who cares about privacy, freedom, and anonymity has a problem with this. Equating the desire for anonymity to letting random people drive your car or leaving a gun out in your yard is just ridiculous.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @12:19AM (#42079541)

    Then again, as the realist that I am I believe the situation will only go worse.

    Likewise. It seems the world learns its lessons the same way a four year old does: No matter how many times you tell them what will happen if they don't wear their hat and mittens, they will still cheerfully ignore you. It seems that only after you've frozen the little bastard half to death that they learn.

    It's unfortunate that we haven't yet managed to evolve a society that learns in any other way than by bludgeoning of the clue bat.

  • by countach (534280) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @01:08AM (#42079747)

    If that's true, the law has failed. The only reason we have law is to protect those with less resources from those with more.

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @02:22AM (#42080013)

    But in the U.S. the 5th amendment would protect you from having to reveal the encryption keys.

    That's cute that you believe your "rights" have any meaning if US police and/or any TLAs want your encryption keys bad enough, especially if it's something like the encrypted data in question being such that it may expose/prove massive wrongdoing/corruption/treasonous acts on the government's behalf. This is especially true these days with expanded-PATRIOT act, NDAA, etc etc.

    Refusal to reveal encryption keys in such cases is likely to cost one an expanding list of bodily parts...kneecaps...fingers...teeth...eyes...genitalia...you get the idea.

    The US has become a police state. It just hasn't gone all full goose-stepping-thugs-and-open-trench-mass-graves.

    Yet.

    If government size, power, and control aren't reined-in sharply and quickly, it will.

    We're only one convenient crisis away.

    DHS and FEMA are ready with millions and millions of rounds of hollow-point ammo requisitioned over the past couple of years, and "temporary" holding facilities "in case of emergency". DHS also recently requisitioned tens of thousands of prefabricated, bulletproof, roadside checkpoint shelters.

    Of course that's all just conspiracy-nut stuff. It couldn't happen here. All emergency/disaster refugee centers are built like prisons with razor-wire fences, guard towers, and barred holding cells. Move along, nothing to see here.

    Strat

  • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @02:46AM (#42080065)

    Yeah, of course. Disregard all of the abusive governments throughout history; ours is magically immune to corruption! We didn't see the government take advantage of the events of 9/11 at all!

  • by Mathinker (909784) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @06:16AM (#42080671) Journal

    Might want to try Greasemonkey + Moderatrix .... works for me!

    Or, as the AC said, you can use NoScript to block JS.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 24, 2012 @06:20AM (#42080677)

    Thats why you never talk to the police.

    Never, ever.

    Good talk on this subject:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

    With the same advice given by a police officer ;)

  • by thej1nx (763573) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @08:39AM (#42081021)
    Someone hacks into sets this Judge's computer and sets it up as an exit node, and anonymously notifies the authorities and the media, and this ruling would change 2 days ago too. We will get to see if law is really an ass, or just a hypocrite, right there and then :)

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