The tor project explained why a number of network relays were removed citing that they represented a threat to the safety & security of all Tor network users.
The tor network relays routing points that help to anonymize the original traffic source through the Tor network by packings coming in and then passing the encrypted data to the next node.
These relays are operated by volunteers and enthusiasts that are passionate about privacy, security, and anonymity & freedom of information that is found on the internet.
Unfortunately the project discovered that some of those that were operating relays also engaged in high risk for profit cryptocurrency schemes.
These schemes promised monetary gains with cryptocurrency tokens with out any approval from the Tor Project.
“We consider these relays to be harmful to the TOR Network for a number of reasons, including that certain of the relays do not meet our requirements, and that such financial schemes present a significant threat to the network’s integrity and the reputation of our project as they can attract individuals with malicious intent, put users at risk, or disrupt the volunteer driven sprit that sustains the TOR Community.” – Tor Project
Those operators whose relays were removed from the network put themselves at risk by not being aware of the project they were contributing to.
Others that were running relays were in unsafe or high risk regions.
Removing these relays sparked community discussions around relay policies and what constitutes a violation.
The Tor team shed some light about their decision.
Operating relays for profit goes against the spirit of principle of the volunteers that are fighting against internet censorship & surveillance, which sustains the powers of the community.
If The for profit element were to start scaling and in turn start to consume a large percentage of the Tor network’s relays. The communities power would fall into dubious hands, and the safety of the Tor network would be undermined by invasive centralization.
A Tor community user posting under a post by Tor claims that the blocked relays are linked to ATor (AirTor), and they number around 1,000 relays even though this info is not confirmed.
According to the Tor service’s site:
“ATOR empowers decentralized internet relay operators through on-chain rewards, and facilitates wider provision of open and anonymous protocols through hardware.”
It was later confirmed to Bleeping Computer that the relays were associated with ATOR but no further details were provided.