Running a Tor relay (Liberation Day special)

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Today is Liberation Day in the Netherlands. We celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of Nazi occupation during World War II. A perfect day to write about freedom!
Running a Tor relay (Liberation Day special)

Tue 05 May 2020 By Imre Jonk



This article was supposed to go along with a meeting for (aspiring) relay operators in the Netherlands, but times being what they are, the meeting had to be cancelled. Thanks to the HVIV foundation for their intentions on making the meeting a success, and I hope that we can have our meeting soon. Let's try to move the discussion online for now!

Tor is a network of routers, so called 'relays', that anonymize Internet traffic through a process called onion routing. A technique originally developed by the U.S. Navy, onion routing takes Internet traffic through multiple relays before forwarding it to the final destination. Encryption aids in keeping the source and destination of the traffic secret. The sender encrypts the traffic with the keys of the intermediary relays, and each relay 'peels' off one layer of encryption, revealing where the resulting data should be sent next.

The Tor software (most notably the relay software and the Tor Browser) is developed by the Tor Project. Users of this software include ordinary people who value their privacy, but also activists, whistleblowers, abuse victims, stalker targets and dissidents of oppressive regimes. There are media organizations that rely on the anonymity provided by Tor for protecting their sources, as well as law enforcement organizations that use Tor for undercover operations and anonymous tip lines. And finally, militaries use Tor to protect field agents and support intelligence gathering. It was the military that pioneered on onion routing technologies after all.

Read more about Tor's history and design.

Now, onto relay operations. Let's see if I can answer your questions.

Should I run a relay?

If you are comfortable behind a computer, then yes, you should! The Tor network becomes faster, safer and more stable if you were to run a relay. Tor thrives on the diversity of it's users and relay operators. The larger and more diverse…
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