Tag: blocks

British ISPs block more torrent sites

A high court order has spurred top ISPs to block three of the largest BitTorrent sites.

BT, Virgin Media, O2 and Be There have all stopped customers from accessing KickassTorrents, H33T and Fenopy after it was claimed in the courts they were facilitating copyright infringement.

The sites were allegedly raking in cash – with revenues estimated for KickassTorrents at around $12,525,469 and $22,383,918, according to an expert quoted in the verdict.

TorrentFreak reports that the High Court ordered six ISPs including BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk to block subscriber access to the three torrent sites after the BPI stuck its oar in and moaned that they damaged legal music sales. This is despite evidence from the European Commission that pirates are actually avid content fiends who also pay for their films, TV shows, and music.

No date had been set for the block and TorrentFreak pointed out its own investigations had found these sites were now being blocked.

The order is similar to the one which resulted in a nationwide block of The Pirate Bay last year. At the time the Open Rights Group said the block was “an extreme response,” and claimed the BPI and the courts needed to “slow down and be very careful about this approach”.

This advice was clearly not taken to heart.

The content industry would be wise to understand the Streisand Effect: that an active effort to censor something online will actually increase its popularity. Indeed, when the Pirate Bay was first blocked it quickly became one of the most accessed websites in the UK.

For some low-level pirates, the move will be effective advertising for KAT.ph, H33T, and Fenopy as useful alternatives to Googling for “Iron Man torrent”. Blocking these websites usually has a Hydra effect on their proxies: when one is blocked, more spring up in its place. Even without proxies, it only takes minimal Googling for a user to figure out how to get around the blocks.

So, actually, the BPI might well be shooting itself in the foot on this one. By blocking these websites it is trying to turn the clock back on file sharing – impossible – and tarring itself as an anti-progressive force, much like the rest of the content industry.

BPI pushes ISPs for more web censorship

Further plans from the BPI to force ISPs to block a range of file sharing sites have been branded “frustrating” and “extreme” by the Pirate Party UK and the Open Rights Group.

The comments from the Pirate Party UK and Open Rights Group (ORG) come after the recording industry organisation put proposals in place to force the likes of BT, Virgin and TalkTalk to block torrent sites Kickass Torrents, H33t and Fenopy.

The motion follows a successful win by the BPI, which along with nine recording labels including EMI, Polydor, Sony, Virgin and Warner successfully forced ISPs to block The Pirate Bay earlier this year.

Although the ISPs have so far refused to comply with the new orders, rights groups have said they will have to if a court order sides with the music industry organisation, which is pushing for a decision by Christmas.  

The courts need to slow down and be careful about their approach, Jim Killock, executive director of ORG, told TechEye.

“Web blocking is an extreme response,” Killock said. “The orders are often indefinite and open ended, and will be blocking legitimate uses.

“The BPI and the courts need to slow down and be very careful about this approach,” he said. “The BPI seem to be trying to speed things up and that is not good. It will lead to carelessness and unneeded harms.”

Killock warned that censorship is a dangerous game to play, looking at the wider picture. “As an approach, censorship is a bad idea,” Killock said. “It leads to more censorship, and is unlikely to solve the problem it seeks to address”.

The Pirate Party UK published a statement on its website denouncing the moves. Leader Loz Kaye said, commenting to TechEye, that watching an industry continuously shaped by the content industry’s jackboot is frustrating.

“It’s hugely frustrating that our digital and cultural policy continues to be hi-jacked by narrow focused lobbyists like the BPI,” Kaye said. “We should be supporting digital business, not burdening it with demands to carry out censorship.”

“We should be dealing with the devastating effects of the slashing cuts to the Arts Council, rather than trying to shore up commercial interests,” Kaye said, adding that it’s difficult to see where the campaign of censorship will end.

“The government promised not to carry out the site blocking provisions of the Digital Economy Act, but that pledge looks worthless now,” he said. “Until the Coalition acts, I’ll continue to believe they are happy to allow site blocking. The industry lobby has never been able to set out a clear, positive, achievable goal for restrictions. That is why they never seem satisfied.

“Everything we have seen up to now suggests they will be calling for ever more draconian interference threatening the digital economy, our personal freedoms and privacy,” Kaye said.

South Korea furious at North Korean Twitter and its followers

The South Korean government wants to put further internet restrictions in place to stop any websites in favour of its troubled neighbour in the North.

The country’s Justice Minister has said 2011’s plans will include trying to “block North Korea’s propaganda activity through social-networking services, such as Twitter.”

Websites judged to be sympathetic to Pyongyang, usually from organisations based in China and Japan with affiliations to North Korea, have been blocked by the South Korean government for several years.

According to CIO, South Korean internet users attempting to access the sites are redirected to a National Police Agency page indicating that the site is forbidden in South Korea.

The rules have been ticking along nicely until July when Uriminzokkiri, a China-based site cosy with Pyongyang, opened a Twitter account.

The Twitter feed gave headlines and links to news stories on the organisation’s website and was followed by a Facebook group that was quickly killed. However, accounts on Flickr and YouTube, as well as the Twitter feed, stay alive.  

The South Korean authorities tried their best to block access to the Twitter channel, which has around 10,545 followers, some of which include South Korean citizens. However, while the account page was blocked, Twitter messages from the account can still be seen when the site is accessed via a secure HTTPS connection.   

The South Korean Twitter “rebels” who follow the site could be in hot water. Under existing legislation, it is already illegal for South Koreans to take part in exchanges with North Korea without first getting permission from the South Korean government.

Those who fall foul of the law could face three years in prison or fines of up to $8,660 for doing so.

It is not yet clear how the Justice Ministry will move to change the Twitter and social networking laws but it is presumed the existing law could be part of its plans.

This isn’t the first time South Korea has gone after social networking. Earlier this month Facebook had its knuckles rapped from the Korea Communications Commission, which claimed it was in breach of data privacy laws.

The KCC told Facebook that it needs to do a better job of getting consent from users when getting their personal information. It’s also been pulled up for the way it handles personal information, the personal information it shares with third parties as well as its overall privacy policy.