NOTE: This FAQ is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Our aim is to provide a general description of the legal issues surrounding Tor in the United States. Different factual situations and different legal jurisdictions will result in different answers to a number of questions. Therefore, please do not act on this information alone; if you have any specific legal problems, issues, or questions, seek a complete review of your situation with a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
Although we are not aware of an individual having gotten in trouble by operating a WEPN service, there have been instances of law enforcement (in the United States and other countries) mistakenly investigating individuals running other VPN/tunnel/relay services such as Tor exit node. Tor has put up a comprehensive FAQ for their services, many of which apply when running similar services on WEPN Pod. We recommend reading Tor’s excellent FAQ section in addition to this article, with the exception that your Pod is only used by a few people you know and trust compared to Tor’s open access distribution.
Unless you grant someone the private Tor Bridge option when adding them to your Pod, their activity while using the tunnel can be traced back to your IP address. Therefore, if there’s any illegal activity associated with your IP address, it can raise suspicion and warrant an investigation by your ISP or law enforcement in serious cases.
However, U.S. law provides protections against civil lawsuits. A federal law, 47 U.S.C. § 230 (often called Section 230), provides legal immunity for online intermediaries that host or republish speech. Though there are important exceptions for certain criminal and intellectual property-based claims, Section 230’s immunity protects online services against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do. Another federal law, 17 U.S.C. § 512(a), part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, provides a legal safe harbor against copyright infringement claims based on material that is simply transmitted without modification (relayed).
Despite very low chances of legal liability, sometimes ISPs and law enforcements misunderstand and may mistakenly investigate illegal activities originating for a given IP address. Therefore it is important that you only share access with people you trust and check your ISP and local government rules and regulations carefully.
WEPN is working on additional measures to lower the likelihood of such problems arising:
- We automatically block a list of problematic websites that can be associated with piracy or questionable activities that can prompt a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice from ISP or possible investigation by law enforcement.
- We plan to expand this list and fully block tunneled torrent protocol traffic
- Eventually, we plan to expose these settings to providers to change them based on personal preferences.