• Austria edition
 
Internet relay op convicted for child porn
File Photo: Ashley Moreno/Wikimedia

Internet relay op convicted for child porn

Published: 05 Jul 2014 11:47 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Jul 2014 11:47 GMT+02:00

William W. was charged in November 2013 after police raided his home, confiscating 20 computers and assorted game consoles and Internet devices such as tablets and cell phones.

The 22-year-old defendant - who has been publicly identified in international media and court documents - was found guilty on July 1st by the regional criminal court in Graz, and was sentenced to three years of probation, as well as being required to pay €30,000 in court costs and legal fees.

The court imposed a reduced sentence, because the man waived his right to appeal.

The allegations against the man were that he operated a technical mechanism that made it possible for anonymous persons elsewhere on the Internet to conduct illegal activities - such as accessing and distributing illegal child-pornography - and that he knew it 'could' be used for such purposes.

In his defense, the IT administrator compared himself to a post office - it delivers letters, but is not responsible for the contents of those letters, because the envelopes are never opened.

The court ruled that knowledge that such an anonymous relay - known as a Tor exit node - could be used for illegal activities was sufficient for him to be convicted under section 12 of the StGB (Strafgezetzbuch) - which states that a person is legally responsible when "Not only the immediate offender commits the offense, but also anyone who intended another to carry it out, or otherwise contributes to the completion of said criminal action."

The prosecution argued that the defendant demonstrated a clear knowledge that such an anonymizing relay was likely to be used to commit such offenses, and therefore by operating the node, he was failing to prevent them - or "otherwise contributing to the completion of said criminal action."

This knowledge was based on Internet posts, where the man acknowledged that he was aware of such use. He wrote on his personal blog that the chat conversations, although real, were taken out of context.  He said “I recommended Tor to host anything anonymously, including child pornography.”  

The defendant is now facing bankruptcy, and was hospitalized with an apparently wrongly-diagnosed case of paranoid schizophrenia and PTSD.

Internet freedom advocates claim that such a ruling essentially outlaws the operation of a Tor node in Austria, as it could potentially be used to carry out illegal activities.

Previously, Austrian legal opinions have supported the view that service providers are not responsible for the transmitted content of their networks (based on Austrian e-Commerce law, as well as Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament.)

Maximilian Schubert, general secretary of the Austrian association of Internet Service Providers (ISPA), explained that the court’s decision in this case will probably have no direct effect on the liability of those running Tor services.

“The decision highly depended on the special circumstances of the case and particularly on the statements of the defendant which were seen by the court as encouraging the use of Tor services and its servers for the dissemination of child sexual abuse material. We are thus positive that it cannot be seen as a general ruling against Tor services,” Schubert said.

The case however has highlighted legal challenges, he is reported to have said by PC World.

“It still remains to be seen how the Austrian courts proceed in this issue. The decision was a very unfortunate one as it might cause misunderstandings as to the responsibility for running Tor services, when leaving aside the particular circumstances of the case at hand,” Schubert said.

ISPA however is positive that Austrian courts will follow the reasoning of the Austrian Constitutional Court, which last month declared the country’s data protection law unconstitutional because it violates fundamental privacy rights.

The Constitutional Court held that privacy and especially the secrecy of communication on the Internet have to be protected, Schubert said, adding that he expects that because of this ruling the legality of running Tor services will not be challenged.

Photo: TOR Project

Tor (The Onion Router) is an Internet technology that was developed by the US Navy in 2002 to protect the anonymity of political dissidents, gain access to censored information, and to organize proscribed political activities free from authoritarian interference.

Tor has been a particular target of monitoring by the NSA, according to recent reports from German public broadcaster ARD.

For more stories about Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Health
Austrian biotech firm's Parkinson's vaccine
Michael J. Fox. Photo: Paul Hudson/Creative Commons

Austrian biotech firm's Parkinson's vaccine

An Austrian company has developed a potentially viable vaccine for early-stage Parkinson's disease. The treatment, which is designed to slow or even stop progression of the disease, has undergone a Phase I clinical trial, from which data will be released on Thursday in New York. READ  

More housing sought for asylum seekers
Mikl-Leitner and Klug discussing asylum arrangements. Photo: APA (Schlager)

More housing sought for asylum seekers

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner of the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) says that existing quarters for asylum seekers will be extended and private quarters will be rented to house the flood of refugees coming into Austria. READ  

Trio abscond with 115 tons of stolen meat
Pork chops. Photo: Wikiphoto/Wikihow

Trio abscond with 115 tons of stolen meat

Three men have been arrested for a scheme whereby they regularly stole frozen meat, which was transported across a border for resale in Slovenia. READ  

Murder trial after brothel stabbing
The accused in court. Photo: APA/HERBERT PFARRHOFER

Murder trial after brothel stabbing

A punter who got into a fight with a prostitute in Vienna is on trial for attempted murder after stabbing a security guard at a brothel in Favoriten. READ  

Over 800 police deployed for right-wing march
Police at the right-wing march in May. Photo: APA/Pfarrhofer

Over 800 police deployed for right-wing march

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) has revealed that 878 police officers were deployed at a demonstration organised by a right-wing group called Die Identitaere Bewegung (The Identity Movement) in May. READ  

UN marks first day against human trafficking
Children's choir helps mark the UN day against modern slavery. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

UN marks first day against human trafficking

The United Nations in Vienna is marking the first World Day Against Trafficking in Persons with an event at the Vienna International Centre. READ  

43-year-old farm labourer killed by bull
Photo: APA (Archiv/dpa)

43-year-old farm labourer killed by bull

A 43-year-old worker on a farm in Mooshuben in Steiermark was found dead on Tuesday morning by two neighbours after he went to retrieve a bull which had broken out of its pasture. READ  

Conchita Wurst
Conchita: Every day is like a birthday
Conchita Wurst. Photo: APA/HANS KLAUS TECHT

Conchita: Every day is like a birthday

Two and a half months ago Austria’s bearded lady, Conchita Wurst, won the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen. The Austrian Press Agency has spoken with the drag entertainer about her success, her plans to leave Austria one day, and her ideas for next year’s Song Contest. READ  

Austria recalls diplomats from Libya
A recent satellite photo shows smoke from fires near the airport. Photo: European Space Imaging

Austria recalls diplomats from Libya

The Austrian government has recalled its diplomatic staff from Libya in light of the deteriorating security situation in the country. READ  

Vienna's Hotel Sans Souci most 'gay friendly'
One of the suites at the Hotel Sans Souci. Photo: Hotel Sans Souci

Vienna's Hotel Sans Souci most 'gay friendly'

Vienna’s Hotel Sans Souci has been voted as one of the most gay-friendly in Europe, alongside hotels in Paris, London, and Istanbul. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Pizzeria anarchists block traffic in street march
International
Centenary of Austria's declaration of war on Serbia
National
Eight cheap things to do in Vienna this summer
Features
'I came for a boy and stayed for the lifestyle'
Society
The Local's carnivore goes vegan
Gallery
The pop-up forest restaurant in Austria's most beautiful locations
Tech
Could robots end up doing more than half of the jobs in Austria?
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
International
Search on for Austrian WWI memorabilia
Politics
The former finance minister embroiled in a corruption scandal
Society
The best part of living abroad: 'Breaking down barriers'
Gallery
Vienna's Ukrainian community gathers to mourn crash victims
Culture
An American falls in love with Vienna's gelateria
National
The Ukrainians who protest every month outside the OSCE head office
Travel & Tourism
Where is the world's best wine list?
Travel & Tourism
Treat yourself to an Austrian spa experience
Travel & Tourism
Austrians love to get nude on the beach
Gallery
The week in pictures: July 6th - 12th
International
Pez sends supply of sweets to Norwegian boy with autism
Society
Is the free tabloid press killing quality journalism?
National
Austrian of the Week: Lena Hoschek
National
What Google Trends reveals about Austria
Society
Puppies in peril
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

250
jobs available