Operating Tor Relays at Universities: Experiences and Considerations

Christoph Döpmann, Matthias Marx, Hannes Federrath, Florian Tschorsch

In today's digital society, the Tor network has become an indispensable tool for individuals to protect their privacy on the Internet. Operated by volunteers, relay servers constitute the core component of Tor and are used to geographically escape surveillance. It is therefore essential to have a large, yet diverse set of relays. In this work, we analyze the contribution of educational institutions to the Tor network and report on our experience of operating exit relays at a university. Taking Germany as an example (but arguing that the global situation is similar), we carry out a quantitative study and find that universities contribute negligible amounts of relays and bandwidth. Since many universities all over the world have excellent conditions that render them perfect places to host Tor (exit) relays, we encourage other interested people and institutions to join. To this end, we discuss and resolve common concerns and provide lessons learned.

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