In order for Tor to successfully anonymize its users, it has to bounce their traffic between a number of relays to obfuscate their identity, but it can’t keep bouncing forever and will eventually need to exit through an exit node. The problem is that, be it because of the constant questions from law enforcement or DMCA takedowns from entertainment groups, the people running these essential exit nodes many times end up taking them down. The Tor Project has found an ingenious solution to this problem, however, one which would also dramatically increase the speed of the Tor network by turning legally-protected public libraries into exit node hubs.
The Tor Project has announced, in association with the Library Freedom Project, a new initiative to put Tor exit nodes in public libraries, and help educate users and librarians alike, of the importance of Tor and its mission for user online privacy. Because of the way Tor was constructed to work, Tor exit nodes play a crucial importance above of all Tor middle relays and bridges. Tor exit nodes are the public spot from where traffic that enters the Tor network leaves back to the Internet, hiding the user’s real identity from surveillance projects run like the NSA. From these nodes, huge quantities of traffic spews out online, and these servers are usually where a law enforcement investigation comes to a dead stop. Because of this, many individuals and companies that have opted to run a Tor exit node have been in the past under a heavy barrage of questions from police officials, many times being forced to take their servers offline after official DMCA takedowns. What the Tor Project is doing with its latest project is an absolute genius move, at least from a legal standpoint.