Another one.

November 15, 2007

TOR logoWell. I was expecting this. You know, there are people taking civil responsibility, running a Tor-node and all they get is nastygrams, kicked-down doors and ultimately, lawsuits.

So, what happened: There’s this German guy, a Tor-operator. In June the police send him a letter telling him that he’s accused of computer fraud combined with unlawful modification of evidences. He’s a law-abiding citizen nothing guilty of, just using his civil rights and quite fed up with all those silly accusations, so he followed Udo’s golden rule #1: “You have the right to remain silent“.

Months later he got a letter from a court order about a penalty order, telling him that he’s guilty on all counts.

He describes it in his own words:

In early September I received a penalty order ("Strafbefehl") - from the
court. A judge found me guilty of having ordered a gift voucher (value: 51
EUR) on amazon.de, providing address details of a living person (but not
myself obviously), and using a Web.de email address registered specifically
for this purpose. I was sentenced to pay a fine of 500 EUR.

He appealed and the whole case finally went to court, having the hearing today. What happened then is beyond all reason:

[…] the penalty order listed four witnesses (the person whose address
details had been used, a police officer in a cow town near that person's
home hometown, a local police officer, and an employee of amazon.de)

However, the trial listed no witnesses at all. That guy was a laymen-judge (lay assessor) himself, so he though that this trial is based on a very weak basis and didn’t bother about it to much. Then all hell broke lose.

The judge and the lawyer of the state realized quite quick that he was not the one who committed the fraud, but instead of dismissing the case entirely they started to construct accusations like “supporting a crime” – which is utter bullshit. The accusation of “supporting a crime” in Germany definitively states that you need to support actively a certain crime – and only especially that you’re accused of. There ain’t nothing like a “general support crime”, as the judge thought. This is just another stunt!

The judge really thought “someone needs to be punished, but we can’t accept you to help anyone else to comit a crime”:

The judge as well as the public prosecutor
refused to accept that I didn't do anything criminal, that I didn't and
still don't want to help anyone committing a crime.

Oh Lord. Where have we gone!?

Even worse. The whole lawsuit was so frightening and cumbersome to the Tor-guy that he decided to dismiss the lawsuit according to ยง153 StPO. That means that the accusations are dismissed because there’s no public interest in the case. But yet, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t found NOT GUILTY!

Why did he do this? Because he didn’t want to pay for a lawyer, as I do – but I can afford it:

They offered me to dismiss the actual court trial according to paragraph 153
StPO which is not the same as an acquittal (no "Freispruch") which I
eventually accepted. It means, however, that I won't have to pay for the
trial. They also repeatedly said that this time I got off with just a slap
on the wrist - next time it wouldn't be that cheap.

It’s all a big mess. Judges and lawyers have no bloody clue what Tor is about. They ignore the fact that Tor is a legal tool in a civil society and that Tor-operators aren’t responsible for the actions of their users. Heck, no one ever sued Pan Am to let the Lockerbie-bombers on board, and no one ever sued the German Postal Service for transporting letter-bombs: Yet German courts think that operators of anomymizing services are responsible for the actions of the users.

Brave new new world. Where have we gone? Our elected leaders ratify laws which are stupid. The judiciary is as dumb as a piece of stale bread. Take me out of here.


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