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Censorship United Kingdom Your Rights Online

British ISP Ordered To Block Links to Pirate Site 157

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the political-censorship-next dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A UK High Court judge has ruled that BT must block access to a website which provides links to pirated movies. Justice Arnold ruled that BT must use its blocking technology CleanFeed — which is currently used to prevent access to websites featuring child sexual abuse — to block Newzbin 2. 'Currently CleanFeed is dealing with a small, rural road in Scotland,' ISPA council member James Blessing told BBC Radio 4's PM programme. 'Trying to put Newzbin and other sites into the same blocking technology would be a bit like shutting down the M1. It is not designed to do that.' Digital rights organisation the Open Rights Group said the result could set a "dangerous" precedent. "Website blocking is pointless and dangerous. These judgements won't work to stop infringement or boost creative industries. And there are serious risks of legitimate content being blocked and service slowdown. If the goal is boosting creators' ability to make money from their work then we need to abandon these technologically naive measures, focus on genuine market reforms, and satisfy unmet consumer demand," said ORG campaigner Peter Bradwell."
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British ISP Ordered To Block Links to Pirate Site

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  • by FalconZero (607567) <`moc.liamG' `ta' `oreZnoclaF'> on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:31AM (#36907222)
    ...court orders pavements(sidewalks) ripped up to prevent bank robbery.
    • by discord5 (798235)

      ...court orders pavements(sidewalks) ripped up to prevent bank robbery.

      Robbers seen handling steamrollers creating their own pavement.

    • by myurr (468709)

      Appeals court overturns original ruling as ineffective and instead orders banks to seal all their doors preventing access for bank robbers.

    • by paziek (1329929)

      But just those that lead only to thief safe house. Sure he could have some legitime business there as a cover up, but so what?

    • by Sancho (17056) *

      I wish there was a -1 Horrible Analogy mod.

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      And in a related development, police are told they can only ignore muggings in front of their very eyes at the risk of being sued by the mugging victim.
  • Love it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:37AM (#36907280)

    I love how trivial this is to get around for the pirates, too. First thing I thought was 'URL Shortener.'

    But of course, anyone that really cares would use a VPN and this wouldn't affect them in the first place.

    • Re:Love it (Score:4, Informative)

      by discord5 (798235) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:43AM (#36907364)

      But of course, anyone that really cares would use a VPN and this wouldn't affect them in the first place.

      Newzbin felt this coming on a long time ago and have set up their service on Tors .onion a while ago. I read about it a month or so ago, but I'm sure it's been up a good while longer.

      It's quite pointless to do this, and it sets a dangerous precedent legally for using a filter in place to stop kiddy porn (equally useless for the same reason btw) to protect corporate interests. Insert your favourite slippery slope argument here.

      • Re:Love it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:54AM (#36907506) Homepage Journal

        The fantastically sad thing is that this is what we've always warned/complained about. Every time a child porn filter is mentioned on Slashdot as a proposed project, there's a cloud of "it's gonna be abused" comments following it. It happened in Australia, without too much open discussion until the blacklists were leaked. Here, we have a quintessential example—in motion, no less—of the precise same problem.

        I recall some stories about US lawmakers pushing for the Internet to become more regulated; that it's too lawless. For once, I agree with them: we need mandatory net neutrality.

        • The fantastically sad thing is that this is what we've always warned/complained about. Every time a child porn filter is mentioned on Slashdot as a proposed project, there's a cloud of "it's gonna be abused" comments following it.

          Yep. We demolished the arguments for it, we provided previous examples where it all went to hell, and it still happened. Now we have one more example.

          Come on Cassandra, let's go down and watch 'em bring the horse in.

      • Re:Love it (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dintech (998802) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @10:03AM (#36907590)

        If you want to avoid your ISP's tomfoolery, use a VPN. Giganews provide one with their platinum package. When I use the VPN, it gets round my ISPs bandwidth throttling and I get 1000% faster download speeds.

        By leap-frogging the ISP like this, you can work around some of the bullshit.

        • Re:Love it (Score:4, Insightful)

          by discord5 (798235) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @10:20AM (#36907780)

          If you want to avoid your ISP's tomfoolery, use a VPN.

          Until your ISP starts fooling around with the VPNs. It's trivially easy to throttle things like OpenVPN & co. My ISP is currently testing DPI combined with throttling, and they've been quite successful at it.

          By leap-frogging the ISP like this, you can work around some of the bullshit.

          And you become dependent on the company offering the VPN service, which also has to keep logs to be legally compliant to its local government. Hell, once the VPN service becomes the next target instead of your local privacy laws protecting you (if your country has such a thing), you now are subjected to the local policies of the company you're hiring the service from. Most companies have a policy in place to keep track of financial records, if you get what I mean.

          I'm very wary of companies offering me VPNs to "enhance my internet privacy".

          • Throttling VPN is something they might be a bit wary about. Think of all the company customers that would very quickly get very angry, and losing them is quite a bit of a problem for most ISPs.

            • Rogers in Canada throttles VPN connections. Lots of pissed off business types, no huge problems for Rogers yet.

          • Its not trivially easy to throttle since there are too many IPs and they are always shifting and it gives you anon bittorrent/emule (or anything else people decide to write for it as its designed to enable anon P2P unlike Tor).

            • I use Freenet. The overheads are nasty, it's slow, content is limited... but for the paranoid, it's as anonymous as networking can get. There are a few pirate sites there, but the network isn't made for distributing really large files.
          • Can they actually throttle OpenVPN though? I was under the impression that it goes on port 443 and looks like normal SSL traffic unless you decrypt it.
            • by discord5 (798235)

              Can they actually throttle OpenVPN though? I was under the impression that it goes on port 443 and looks like normal SSL traffic unless you decrypt it.

              By default OpenVPN is UDP traffic over port 1194, although you can use TCP over 443.

              The behaviour of OpenVPN over TCP differs quite a bit in packet flow compared to most HTTPS requests. While both use OpenSSL over TCP, HTTPS requests typically follow the pattern of : connect -> short burst of data -> short burst of data from client -> long burst of data from server -> short burst of data from client -> long burst of data from server -> disconnect (according to http Keep-Alive).

              This differ

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      Trivial to defeat or not, it'd be nice to make some attempt to resist this; Newzbin have already said they plan to take out Cleanfeed, but whether or not they'll manage it I don't know. In either case, that seems a poor way to mount a principled defence of our free speech.

      What I'd rather see is a group of Slashdot types setting up our own censorship-free ISP, perhaps making it uncensorable in principle by deliberately obfuscating logs and so forth (to within the letter of the law on data retention, of cours

      • by AGMW (594303)
        I just googled newzbin and guess what, yep, Google provides a page that links to newsbin [google.co.uk]!

        So, presumably if BT points this out and therefore has to block Google too, maybe Google can pay to fight the stupid law!

        • by PhilHibbs (4537)

          There would be no point in banning links to a site that is blocked at the ISP level. And it's a stretch to say that google is "linking to it", you search for newzbin and they tell you where newzbin is. You search for "harry potter torrent" and it shows you pages that contain that phrase, including this Slashdot discussion soon. What it does not show you are a checked and rated list of links to harry potter torrents. It could be a news site about harry potter torrents being shut down.

          • by paiute (550198)

            There would be no point in banning links to a site that is blocked at the ISP level. And it's a stretch to say that google is "linking to it", you search for newzbin and they tell you where newzbin is. You search for "harry potter torrent" and it shows you pages that contain that phrase, including this Slashdot discussion soon. What it does not show you are a checked and rated list of links to harry potter torrents. It could be a news site about harry potter torrents being shut down.

            Block that news site. It is telling people that torrents are available.

          • "What it does not show you are a checked and rated list of links to harry potter torrents."

            It does if you use it right.

            http://www.google.com/search?q=deathly+hallows+site%3Athepiratebay.org
      • by discord5 (798235)

        deliberately obfuscating logs and so forth (to within the letter of the law on data retention, of course)

        The law on logging and data retention here is quite clear and doesn't allow for much breathing room. Very few people are complying with it at the moment except for the ISPs and large corporations, but it's bound to cause a mess sooner or later, and not in a good way.

        explaining loudly and publicly why we feel it important to do so.

        But who other than the slashdot audience gives a fuck? I'm pretty sure that no Joe Sixpack isn't going to care. Aside from that, this kind of blocking is so trivially circumvented that it's only going to lead to more stringent approaches.

      • Re:Love it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @11:05AM (#36908476)

        I've read our law on data retention. The sensible thing for an ISP to do is to ignore it. The fine for failing to comply is lower than the implementation cost.

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          I've read our law on data retention. The sensible thing for an ISP to do is to ignore it. The fine for failing to comply is lower than the implementation cost.

          That would be fine if it was just a one off fine, but surely they will keep coming back and asking for proof of compliance, then fining you again? Or fining you for each separate instance, or something? It seems a bit pointless as a law otherwise.

    • URL shortener is not a solution because it just adds one useless DNS lookup and HTTP redirect to the request. It doesn't redirect the final DNS lookup which will get filtered. But VPN/Tor are valid solutions. Anyway, it won't be necessary because this is exactly what the European Court of Justice said earlier is beyond the power of courts alone [slashdot.org].
  • I wonder:

    1. How much this will cost the ISP, especially considering the growing number of sites that provide links to warez. If you only block a few, other will pop up and it will be ineffective. Block many and it will probably have an impact on required infrastructure.

    2. If they can block sites that link to material, how will they handle services that get you to sites that link to materials? For example, VPN services and proxies.

    3. Will this make warez software improve so no link sites are even needed? May

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chrisq (894406)

      I wonder:

      1. How much this will cost the ISP, especially considering the growing number of sites that provide links to warez. If you only block a few, other will pop up and it will be ineffective. Block many and it will probably have an impact on required infrastructure.

      The ISPs may well wait for a court order to close each one so that they don't have a large overhead.

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        I sure would. Then I'd retroactively bill the companies who got this order passed in the first place. They could take me to court over it, yet again.

    • They don't care how much it will cost. They are a business and will pass that cost onto the consumer.

      • They don't care how much it will cost. They are a business and will pass that cost onto the consumer.

        Unless not all ISPs are injuncted, in which case those who are so injuncted are at a competitive disadvantage if they are forced to incur costs - passing costs on to the consumer only works if all competitors are in the same situation.

        Similarly, for an injunction to be granted under s97A, it must be "fair and proportionate and must not be excessively costly"- see, for example, L'Oreal v. eBay [europa.eu] , at pa

    • BT already has in place a system called CleanFeed [wikipedia.org]. CleanFeed uses Deep Packet Inspection, so DNS changes won't affect it. Implementation is likely to be trivial - it costs next to zero to add an entry to a table. BT won't go out of their way to add entries to the their block list, but will likely comply with each court order as it's received. -- Windows in 6 Bytes (IA-32) : 90 90 90 90 CD 19
      • by Baloroth (2370816)
        And, like all DPI technology, can be gotten around by implementing something that should be standard on all Internet sites anyways: HTTPS. Completely bypasses DPI, AFAIK, unless they also have the tech to perform MITM attacks. Which they might, but probably don't. And that would add large overhead to their systems, so its unlikely to be implemented. Also, from the wikipedia article (correct link here [wikipedia.org]) you can just use another port. So its not exactly hard to get around, but it is likely to block casual user
        • Except that the DPI is only needed for partial blocking - denying access to one file on a website, or one vhost on a server. If the objective is just to block *a* server, completly, no exceptions, then all that need be done is one IP blocking rule. You don't need to mess with cleanfeed - the admin just needs to look at his network map, find the border routers, ssh in and add a single line to each one*. Bypassing that would require the use of a proxy or VPN. Doable, but inconvenient. Most of the affected use
      • by whoever57 (658626)

        BT already has in place a system called CleanFeed [wikipedia.org]. CleanFeed uses Deep Packet Inspection, so DNS changes won't affect it. Implementation is likely to be trivial - it costs next to zero to add an entry to a table.

        And let's not forget that this type of action tends to reduce the ISP's bandwidth usage, hence reducing its costs. A few customers will be lost also, but don't forget that those customers are probably unprofitable for the ISP (as they are high bandwidth users).

  • ... God-only-knows-how-many to go...

  • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:38AM (#36907302) Homepage

    1.) Went to court, and were granted a ruling that the actions of the site in question infringed copyright, once the judge had listened to the evidence on each side.

    2.) Went to court again, seeking an order under s97A, CDPA 1988, that BT should block access to the site, and a judge granted it, having listened to the evidence on each side.

    3.) Will go to court a third time, to discuss the measures in question with BT, to determine what is proportionate.

    My instinctive reaction is against site blocking, but, as long as the laws on copyright stand - a debate in itself - this seems roughly the right procedure, giving multiple levels of legal scrutiny before imposing an order, rather things being done on a voluntary basis?

    • by ledow (319597)

      4) BT gives him an estimated bill, and impact on customer bills, for creating an infrastructure that reads every byte of every customer's traffic and blocks anything to/from a given central blacklist of websites (because this surely wouldn't be the only one), anything to any IP listed on their DNS A records, and anything that looks like a reasonable way to get around the traffic.

      Because they want to follow the court order to the letter and make sure their users can't just change their DNS etc. and get aroun

      • BT already has in place a system called CleanFeed [wikipedia.org]. It already uses DPI, so DNS changes are moot. Implementation is likely to be trivial.
      • Because they want to follow the court order to the letter and make sure their users can't just change their DNS etc. and get around the filtering, obviously.

        BT does not need to curb copyright infringement online. It needs to satisfy the requirements of the injunction, which will be determined as a result of the third hearing - I would expect BT to seek particular and clear technical requirements within the terms of the injunction, so that they can be demonstrably satisfied, rather than some vague wordi

    • by Rakishi (759894)

      listened to the evidence on each side.

      I somehow doubt Newzbin 2 paid the large amounts of money needed to have lawyers represent it's side in court. Even if they did, I doubt every other website that someone dislikes has that kind of money on hand.

      So no, the evidence for both sides was most likely not heard.

      • My understanding is that Newzbin 2 weren't even given an opportunity to say anything, or told about it. 3rd-party litigation is a major problem wherever it turns up - but that's the price you pay for staying anonymous.

        Interestingly, Newzbin1 people turned up at the first trial, and were ripped apart on the witness stand - which is partly why a partial s97A injunction was granted against Newzbin 1 then, (with the site collapsing under legal costs/damages), and this didn't help Newzbin2, where the court assum

    • Censorship that follows the "right procedure" is still censorship. Watch Sophie Scholl to see what "legal scrutiny" is worth in a country without basic rights.
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Censorship that follows the "right procedure" is still censorship. Watch Sophie Scholl to see what "legal scrutiny" is worth in a country without basic rights.

        Denying somebody the right to access for free something which they can readily purchase is not censorship, any more than stopping people nicking books from bookshops is.
        And, no, I'm not saying that copyright infrringement is theft.

  • by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:40AM (#36907320) Journal

    I've endured half a decade of being told I'm a tinfoil-hat-wearing maniac for suggesting that the IWF - already in a strange, anti-competitive position of being a private charity endorsed by government and given special legal privileges - is a slippery slope and that technology based on its list would eventually be used at a judicial level to block other sites.

    It required lobby groups to step up the pressure in the courts. We've seen that over the past few years. It required an Act to consolidate the views of these lobby groups and set the legislative view of Internet censorship. That was the DEA. Next comes implementation.

    Abusing children is wrong and the law has a duty to stop it.

    Censoring 0s and 1s does not stop children being abused, but it does provide a framework for censorship.

    The IWF list's implementation has not stopped any child abuse, but it has sat as the foundation stone for the Great Firewall of the UK.

    Every one of you geeks who works for an ISP which has caved into government pressure to implement the list should be ashamed. You are the problem.

  • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:44AM (#36907378) Homepage

    is available on BAILII [bailii.org].

    (BAILII - British and Irish Legal Information Institute - is a very valuable resource indeed, for lawyers and those who simply want to understand the laws affecting their lives. legislation.gov.uk is another useful resource.)

  • by ciderbrew (1860166) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:45AM (#36907394)
    How can I add Google, Bing and Jeeves to this list? I want to see how that works out?
  • BT = British Telecommunications. But, I had to open up the court order PDF to find this. I'm not sure if you can even find what it means on their website [bt.com].
    • by jonbryce (703250)

      How much digging do you have to do to find out that AT&T = American Telecom and Telegraph?

      • I don't argue that it would be a similar amount, and I wouldn't mind if non-U.S. slashdotters would post a similar comment on stories talking about AT&T. Does BT have a similar presence in the U.S. as AT&T does in the U.K.?
        • In a word, yes.

        • by isorox (205688)

          I don't argue that it would be a similar amount, and I wouldn't mind if non-U.S. slashdotters would post a similar comment on stories talking about AT&T. Does BT have a similar presence in the U.S. as AT&T does in the U.K.?

          Yes, BT has at least zero presence in the U.S, just as AT&T has zero presence in the UK.

    • by PhilHibbs (4537)

      I thought it meant BitTorrent. Well, no I didn't, I'm British so I knew what it meant. And it doesn't mean British Telecom any more, in the same way that BP does not mean British Petroleum. It's just BT, and BP, those are the official registered names now (and BP is ~50% US-owned).

  • Why are all file sharers always grouped up with "websites featuring child sexual abuse"?

    I understand that some people don't agree with file sharing, that's fine. But they need to stop likening gas station gum theft to bank robbery and child rape.

  • How is the entire internet subject to an industry which the world can live without? How did they amass this kind of power?
    They have no respect for the natural rights of others, so why should we respect the artificial (copy)rights granted to them by the government?
  • Instead of instructing BT to block traffic to a site which doesn't actually provide any copyrighted materials, why would they not instruct BT to instead block the sites which DO? If "A" provides links to "Z", and Z is the offender, blocking traffic to A will only inevitably result in "B" being created, which also points to Z. And then they have to come back and block B. And so the cycle goes, when they could go right to the source.

  • Barbara would be proud.

  • All of the tech world was crying out over the introduction of such filters that were going to be used for child porn but overextended to include at first piracy and then other speech that was less acceptable and then on to speech that is currently free.

    Off course the powers-that-be had this intention all along and the opposers vilified as child pornographers. Now it's too late, sites will be arbitrarily added and won't be able to removed fully ever again.

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