Lucky Green abandons Tor Project over ethics, takes core node with him

The exit of one of Tor's earliest contributors is yet another blow to the project.

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Lucky Green, an early contributor to the Tor Project, has announced his plans to leave -- and shut down important Tor nodes on his exit.

In an announcement over the weekend, the Tor contributor said "it is no longer appropriate" for him to be part of the Tor Project, whether his contribution is time-based or financial.

Green, one of the earliest contributors to Tor whose involvement predates the relay and node system being called "Tor" by a number of years, says he probably ran one of the first five nodes in the system at its inception.

The Tor network, also known as the Onion router, uses a series of nodes and relays to mask user traffic and disguise both origins and IP addresses. The network is used by users who are privacy-conscious, alongside activists, users from countries with harsh censorship rules and journalists.

See also: Tor Project teams up with researchers to toughen up Tor browser

Currently, the developer contributes to the project by running the Tor node "Tonga," the "Bridge Authority," which is a critical network component, alongside a number of fast Tor relays.

However, these will be closed down imminently, as well as all associated cryptographic keys.

This does give other developers time to substitute the node and relays, but the removal of critical network components is still a blow to Tor -- especially as the network is supported by volunteer contributions.

Green does not say exactly why he has decided to leave the project, except hinting that "recent events" prompted his exit.

"I feel that I have no reasonable choice left within the bounds of ethics, but to announce the discontinuation of all Tor-related services hosted on every system under my control," Green says. "I wish the Tor Project nothing but the best moving forward through those difficult times."

The developer is likely referring to two recent, major events which have rocked the foundations of the project.

In June, Tor developer and security researcher Jacob Appelbaum left his core position at Tor amid allegations that the 33-year-old was involved in serious sexual misconduct. Appelbaum strongly denies the accusations, but nonetheless decided stepping down was in the best interests of the community.

Following Appelbaum's exit, this month, Tor announced a complete transformation of the non-profit's board. Each member, seven in total, has stepped down and six new faces have so far replaced the executive group.

Tor said the decision, which has resulted in figures including the EFF's Matt Blaze and security expert Bruce Schneier coming on board, was made to keep Tor "in the best possible health."

Green's node and relays will close on 31 August, and it remains to be seen if other contributors will follow suit. Users of the anti-surveillance can only hope this is not the case.