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Author Topic: Torservers - Free Anonymous Uncensored Internet for Everyone  (Read 24994 times)
torservers
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September 08, 2010, 04:23:20 PM
 #1

Hi!

Since I have announced that www.torservers.net accepts Bitcoin in the "We accept Bitcoin" thread, I have already received over 200 Euro worth of Bitcoin! I want to use this thread to thank all those who have donated, and to apologize for not yet having added these donations to our list of donations page. I want to revamp the page to give a better chronological view of donations, and rest assured that all your donations will be listed there once I manage to find enough time. I will be on vacation the rest of September, so don't expect this to happen earlier than October. Sorry! Check the twitter feed @torservers to keep everyone up to date on donations.

I also want to use this to properly introduce Torservers. Torservers is a project I started some months ago. The idea behind it is to support the Tor project with operational services. What does that mean?

The Tor software is in development for 10 years now, open source, and 'simply the best'. It is a research oriented project that aims to provide free, anonymous and uncensored Internet access to anyone who needs it. More and more countries are censoring and monitoring Internet access, and journalists, activists and bloggers risk their lives (or lose it...) to get information out (and in). Tor makes it very hard, if not impossible for a single government, to block and monitor user activity. While they do excellent work, they cannot as official project run servers that run the Tor software. That's where we step in.

What we do at Torservers is maintain high bandwidth Tor exit nodes, deal with the technical issues - and especially the legal issues. Before we came, about 25% of all Tor traffic exited through one network (Blutmagie in Germany), and we wanted to change that. So what we are trying to do is bring together people who love the idea and want to support the network, but don't know how to run their own exit nodes, or don't want to do it for legal reasons.

100% of your donations go into operational costs of Tor exit nodes and bridges. Every user of Tor will benefit from more servers - more anonymity and more speed. We are the first instance who are able to provide private bridge IPs to activists/organizations.

This model seems to work very well, and I am in the process of registering a proper foundation (a German "Verein") to back this up. We don't do this for the money, I will pay for the foundation myself, but - besides donations of course - I can use your help in getting the word out, talking to people to make them aware of the problem of censorship (say China, Burma, Iran, Irak, Saudi Arabia, Tunesia, Russia, etc...!), and to spread the idea behind Tor. It would be awesome to find companies and organizations who love the idea and want to sponsor a node. Tor has 50000 daily users from China alone! For me, getting information to and from people in oppressed countries is among the most important tasks of our civilization.

If you have any questions, let me know!

http://www.torservers.net/

If you want to know more about the Tor project in general, check their page at http://www.torproject.org/
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September 09, 2010, 02:15:23 AM
 #2

Thank you for all of your efforts. They make a big difference. Smiley
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September 17, 2010, 05:52:57 AM
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Voted with my wallet.dat.  Grin

10 btc

Keep up doing the good work.
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September 17, 2010, 09:02:42 AM
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100% of your donations go into operational costs of Tor exit nodes and bridges. Every user of Tor will benefit from more servers - more anonymity and more speed. We are the first instance who are able to provide private bridge IPs to activists/organizations.

I have donated to you in the past and appreciate what torservers.net does for freedom, as I am a user and advocate of TOR.  My question is, how do I know for sure that 100% of my donations go to operational costs of the Tor exit nodes and bridges, other than your word?  It is nice that you post the Overall Exit Node Traffic and Statistics for each node.  I'm wondering if there would be any way to verify the operation costs and veracity of the nodes without compromising the anonymity of your nodes?

"We will not find a solution to political problems in cryptography, but we can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years.

Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled networks, but pure P2P networks are holding their own."
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September 17, 2010, 02:14:22 PM
 #5

From the website they say that the organisation will form a foundation.

I don't know by German law, but here in the Netherlands foundations have often the requirement to publish the finances to its members and/or chamber of commerce (where they can be requested from again).
torservers
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October 03, 2010, 09:39:05 PM
 #6

Thanks. Yes, we will start a foundation for it. I am sorry that I haven't been all good about publishing each single donation and the costs more clearly on the website yet, but this will definitely happen. The current cost is $201 every month for the 100tb.com server, as you can also see on their website. The rest of the costs (hosting, domain name, etc) are not included as I'm covering for them. I will eventually add them to the list of expenses and at the same time add that money as donations from me to make it all transparent.

Especially for Bitcoin donations I'm behind publishing, sorry! The time I can spend on Torservers is limited, and so far most of time went into answering abuse and setting it all up. I'm still not happy with the setup as we should push more than the current amount of data, and that's my priority right now.

If you want to stay up to date, you are invited to join our mailinglist (very low volume) or follow us on twitter @torservers Smiley

Thanks for your faith! I will be speaking on a conference in Dresden in two weeks, if you happen to be German, feel free to come by!
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October 03, 2010, 09:50:33 PM
 #7

I think answering abuse is also important. Just one question out of curiosity. How much bitcoins are you getting in your wallet? Doesn't need to be accurate, just an estimate. How does this reflect overall donations?

B.t.w. How many people are administrating the servers/foundation?
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October 04, 2010, 11:41:12 AM
 #8

As an estimate, I think I have received roughly 5000 BTC.

At the moment, the three servers are administrated by myself. I have several people who offer to help with this, but I want to get the foundation in place and "contracts" for administrators. The group of administrators will be close friends of mine to make sure I can rely on them. Ideally, in the future the foundation will be managed by people who don't have access to any of the servers, which makes the process more transparent once they are contacted to help with "more serious cases of abuse".

We will automate and document the process of administration and installation of Tor nodes. For me, one of the most important aspects is to publish everything, so that other people can benefit from our experience. The number of abuse cases for most Tor exits today is unknown, and to have definite numbers (in combination with the throughput) published, and have some scripts to help with that, can be very helpful to both researchers and node operators.
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October 04, 2010, 03:20:46 PM
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Thank you for the explanation. Wow, 5000-ish btc. That is more than I expected (about 20x more, based on nothing).
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October 21, 2010, 02:53:37 AM
 #10

Yes, I am very proud of the Bitcoin community to support this project with that amount!

Just a quick update: Sorry, I haven't yet found the time to work on listing the donations properly. Bear with me! I am working on this alone at the moment, and have been busy talking to people about getting the association registered, and my number one priority was to get the Tor nodes working (which turned out to be harder than I thought). There's a lot going on behind the scenes in regard to monitoring etc, I want to put it all on the site once it's done. If you want to help out with anything, let me know (my jabber nick, email etc is on the contact page).

I am also proud to be able to announce that we have tweaked our major server to finally reach an average of 320 MBit/s of Tor traffic as you can see from its stat at http://us1.torservers.net/ . That's exactly what the current plan is covering, and with the most famous and stable exit node "blutmagie" ceasing operation in 2011, it looks like we 'hit the market' just at the right moment.

If you want to meet and missed the event in Dresden, I will be at the Netzpolitische Kongress in Berlin from 12-13th November.
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October 21, 2010, 03:04:34 AM
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That's 485 dollars worth of bitcoins! Wow!

torservers
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October 21, 2010, 03:37:08 AM
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I traded 4000 BTC for 206 Euro at bitcoinexchange as soon as I got them in early September.
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October 21, 2010, 03:41:42 AM
 #13

I sent out a donation request on twitter Smiley
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October 21, 2010, 08:58:55 AM
 #14

Mr "torservers",

Since you're into providing means for anonymous communications, what do you think about providing Anomos trackers?
If you don't know about the Anomos project: http://anomos.info/

I know many people use bittorrent over Tor, and that's not good for the network. The anomos project is a good alternative to the problem, if at least it had trackers!

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October 27, 2010, 10:05:14 AM
 #15

@noagendamarket Thanks! Smiley

@caveden: At the moment I don't want to provide filesharing trackers, sorry.
torservers
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November 09, 2010, 09:04:36 AM
 #16

Good idea. Will do it with the next update.
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February 06, 2011, 01:22:05 PM
 #17

Hi!

We are still alive and kicking! If you're interested in our progress, check out my twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/torservers or the mailing list archive at http://www.freelists.org/archive/torservers/ .

The financial authorities should accept us as a charitable non-profit organization soon, we have been donated one 100 mbit/s and two 40mbit/s servers by ISPs, we have found someone who donates the incredible amount of 100€ monthly, and we're heavily working on finding a really good partner for Tor exit node hosting - which isn't as easy as it seems, we want to get good bandwidth (500 Mbit/s to a Gbit), and that cheap, and most ISPs reject Tor on their network Sad

We are still happy to accept Bitcoin donations of course! At the moment I have ~1000 BTC, and in September as you know I sold 2000 BTC for 100 Euro. If only I had kept it! A Bitcoin address to donate is listed at http://www.torservers.net/donate.html#anonymous .

If you want to know anything else, I'm happy to chat about it. My Jabber details are on the site.
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February 06, 2011, 02:05:11 PM
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Wouldn't it be much better if some form of tor would be invented that supports paying for the service on a usage basis?
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February 06, 2011, 02:26:35 PM
 #19

You can see the number of our servers at http://www.torservers.net/services.html#servers

@bitanarchy: See https://blog.torproject.org/blog/two-incentive-designs-tor for some discussion on that. You really don't want to turn the Tor network into a capitalist system, especially when those affected by censorship are usually the people without money. We at torservers think that it is a great way for everyone who has money to support those that don't. We do not use Tor ourselves, because we live in western societies that already protects most of the properties we want to provide for everyone (protection of free speech etc).
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February 06, 2011, 02:31:32 PM
 #20

Wouldn't it be much better if some form of tor would be invented that supports paying for the service on a usage basis?

I already thought about it, but it's hard to implement I guess.
You can't just embed bitcoin transactions on each data packets. That would be a huge overhead for both networks.

There should be some sort of contract. Like, you pay a certain amount (the relay may specify how much) and the relay grants you a key that you would use to sign each packet. The transfer should cover a good amount of data to be transfered before you have to pay again.

There, you have some problems:
  • The anonymity would be somehow compromised since the relay would be able to link different connections of yours. He still shouldn't be able to decrypt it if he's not the exit-node, nor know your IP, but anyway, sounds a bit more vulnerable than the current protocol...
  • There's a trust issue too. If it's a prepaid contract, the user has to trust the relay. If it's post-payed, it's the relay that must trust the user. Maybe the best would be a prepaid service with some sort of flagging mechanism to ban fraudulent relays. But then, all the thief-relay needs to do is request a new IP to his ISP...


But anyway, if somebody finds a way to implement a payable tor service that would probably have lots of bandwidth since most people don't use all their bandwidth all the time and would be happy to earn a few bitcents from it.

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