Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.

Burning Tor Support

You may be someone that is interested in supporting the Tor Network and planned to do so by running an exit node or bridge or whatever. The logical plan in many countries is to host the server on a VPS and bonus points for if that VPS is in a region that improves the geographic diversity of the Tor Network. So you set your sites on finding a good VPS provider that other nodes are not currently using but also supports exit nodes.

The next step, and the crucial one, is to try a few VPS providers and see if they’re going to allow you to run an exit. They may not have a policy about it or the policy is ambiguous so you give it a shot. Maybe you do this with multiple providers with a plan to figure out which one you like the best.Up to now, you’re doing a great job, it’s the next step that is causing a lot of problems.

The Problem

What’s been happening for years is that people do this and they want to learn how to run an exit and all the fun involved, but they end up pissing off the VPS provider. There’s a lot of ways these ISP’s could get pissed off:

  • You’re running an unrestricted exit policy and you are at the top of the abuse complaint list for that provider
  • You don’t respond to abuse complaints in a timely manner
  • You don’t pay your bills on time because you don’t care
  • You issue lots of support requests that are time consuming (e.g. SWIP transfer)

The big problem is that when this realtionship is burned, the Tor Project “Supporter” can simply walk away without consequence but what they don’t see is these providers now have a bad taste in their mouth about tor in general. The next time someone comes to them and says they’d like to run a tor exit, they’re going to roll their eyes and think twice. This is happening at a large-enough scale that multiple ISP’s to have given me the same exact story.

If you want to run an exit, bridge, relay, whatever, don’t forget that you are also being an advocate and representative of the rest of the tor network.