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Censorship Piracy The Courts United Kingdom

"Piracy Filter" Blocks TorrentFreak for 4 Million Sky Customers 122

Posted by timothy
from the type-one-and-type-two-errors dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Website blocking has become a hot topic in the UK in recent weeks. Opponents of both voluntary and court-ordered blockades have warned about the potential collateral damage these blocking systems may cause, and they have now been proven right. As it turns out blocked sites can easily exploit the system and add new IP-addresses to Sky's blocklist. As a result TorrentFreak has been rendered inaccessible to the ISP's four million customers."
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"Piracy Filter" Blocks TorrentFreak for 4 Million Sky Customers

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  • There we have it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 10, 2013 @08:31AM (#44529879)

    This is why censorship of the internet is a fucking stupid idea.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by paziek (1329929)

      That depends on your point of view. I'm pretty sure there people/corporations/governments that do like it.

    • by SGT CAPSLOCK (2895395) on Saturday August 10, 2013 @09:25AM (#44530089)

      This is to be expected of what I've come to call the "Corporate Internet".

      Governments and corporations have inherited our tubes, and I think that by now they're pretty confident that it's going to be acceptable for them to control and limit the content that ordinary people have access to.

      It's been like this for a while now; once you learn the ropes and (more importantly) learn to obey all the rules, you'll fit right in!

    • Re:There we have it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Saturday August 10, 2013 @09:39AM (#44530157) Homepage Journal

      It explains why the Linux distros in my upload queue have had a lot less activity lately.

  • "To the last, I will grapple with thee... from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!"

  • by grahammm (9083) <graham@gmurray.org.uk> on Saturday August 10, 2013 @08:51AM (#44529945)

    If the blocks are applied to any IP address pointed to by a blocked site, maybe as a demonstration a blocked site should add the IP addresses of all of the major UK political parties, BBC iPlayer, Youtube, Netflix, lovefilm etc. If mainstream media sites get (automatically) blocked then perhaps the backlash might force TPTB into either removing the requirement to block or require the ISPs to use a blocking mechanism with less potential for collateral damage.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are certainly enough boobs on the UK party site to qualify for blocking anyway.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They should block sky's websites from their own customers...

    • by skovnymfe (1671822) on Saturday August 10, 2013 @09:24AM (#44530083)
      They should block Slashdot, and all the sysadmins in the UK will rebel and take down the filter in their anger.
    • by rb12345 (1170423)

      If they were aiming for truly evil exploitation of automated blocking, they wouldn't block any of those. They'd get the DVLA tax disc renewal site blocked instead and, given the automatic fines now, you'd easily upset a twelfth of Sky's userbase who'd need to switch back to manual methods. Alternatively, you'd aim to block HMRC in late January and block the rare people doing tax-returns at the last minute...

      • When you do malicious things to Sky's customers, wouldn't it make you just as or perhaps even more oppressive than the people already controlling their content?

        • by rb12345 (1170423)

          My post certainly wasn't meant to recommend that it should be attempted! It was intended to reply to the OP's comment that:

          If mainstream media sites get (automatically) blocked then perhaps the backlash might force TPTB into either removing the requirement to block or require the ISPs to use a blocking mechanism with less potential for collateral damage.

          Blocking "mainstream media sites" would upset journalists more and get far more publicity. TPTB probably care more about their own sites being available a

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          When you do malicious things to Sky's customers, wouldn't it make you just as or perhaps even more oppressive than the people already controlling their content?

          Depends on what happens.

          If it merely means the site is unreachable, then well, not much (sites go down all the time). If it means you get a scary looking page that says "you've access a site hosting illegal materials" then conversations get started.

          Blocking big sites that can do this can generate some buzz, and the worst part is, you can't really tel

    • by houghi (78078)

      I have the technical knowledge to run my own DNS server.
      I do not have enough knowledge to do the following:
      Make a DNS server for a single PC. It shoudl possibly be doing the following:
      1) Work like a standard DNS server (e.g. start looking at root for SOA, then go down to find the A record for a site)
      2) Stabndard caching of 2 days for IP addresses, perhaps longer for TLDs
      3) Override DHCP settings
      4) Make it easy to install (double click should be enough)

      That way you are no longer depending on your providers D

      • by Jaruzel (804522)

        Your idea kinda works....

        But:
        1. What if the block filter is also blocking the IP address?
        2. What if the block filter is scanning the HTTP 1.1 request header that will contain the line 'host: <blocked-domain>' ?

        for your concept, I believe it's quite simple to configure a linux distro to be a DHCP server for your network that also does DNS and performs it's own querying of the DNS root servers, so your concept is totally doable technically, i'm just not sure how it well it would work in reality...

        -Jar

      • Might this [sourceforge.net] be what you're looking for?

      • But the provider could trivially intercept and spoof DNS requests. Your plan needs three revisions:
        1. Support DNSSEC.
        2. Scratch the two-day cache, make it respect the TTL field as normal.
        3. Except that in the event of no-domain or fail to receive a response to a query, return the last valid signed record regardless of TTL.

        So what you end up with is a perfectly ordinary DNSSEC-complient DNS server, except that of a provider tries to block a domain this will keep on working regardless, at least until the host

      • Just install DD-WRT on your router and activate DNSMasq. You can configure specific hosts for your LAN as well as parameters such as cache duration. The local DNS cache will probably speed things up for you as well.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      If the blocks are applied to any IP address pointed to by a blocked site, maybe as a demonstration a blocked site should add the IP addresses of all of the major UK political parties, BBC iPlayer, Youtube, Netflix, lovefilm etc. If mainstream media sites get (automatically) blocked then perhaps the backlash might force TPTB into either removing the requirement to block or require the ISPs to use a blocking mechanism with less potential for collateral damage.

      Exactly. Though I would put the BBC, Google, Faceb

  • by ConaxConax (1886430) on Saturday August 10, 2013 @09:22AM (#44530067)

    I'm a Sky user in the UK, and I am here to post the text of the article:

    "Website blocking has become a hot topic in the UK in recent weeks. Opponents of both voluntary and court-ordered blockades have warned about the potential collateral damage these blocking systems may cause, and they have now been proven right. As it turns out blocked sites can easily exploit the system and add new IP-addresses to Sky’s blocklist. As a result TorrentFreak has been rendered inaccessible to the ISP’s four million customers.

    stop-blockedFollowing a High Court ruling last month, six UK ISPs are required to block subscriber access to the popular TV-torrent site EZTV.it.

    The actions EZTV faces are not the first taken against a torrent site in the UK. The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and several other “pirate” sites have been blocked by previous court orders and remain inaccessible by conventional means.

    However, over the past couple of days Sky subscribers noticed that the blocklist had been quietly expanded with a new site that’s certainly not covered by any court order – TorrentFreak.com.

    Our site first became inaccessible on Wednesday night, only to be unblocked 14 hours later. However, about an hour ago it was again added to the blocklist.

    The recent blocking spree is causing confusion among Sky subscribers who have no idea why TorrentFreak is longer accessible. However, we can confirm that the problem lies with Sky’s filtering software that is supposed to enforce the court-ordered torrent site blockades.

    The owner of EZTV informed TorrentFreak that he used Geo DNS to point UK visitors to TorrentFreak’s IP-address. Soon after there were reports that our website had become inaccessible to Sky users."

  • by TheP4st (1164315) on Saturday August 10, 2013 @09:23AM (#44530075)
    EZTV should have their DNS servers point to SKY's IP addresses and sit back and watch as hilarity ensues.
  • How many Sky customers are reading the article?

  • They are evil too, even more so.. that should get about 3.9 million of their 4mil customers pissed off.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    SKY is operated (largely) by NEWS Corp aka Murdoch and Fox news

    So CAN WE PLEASE HAVE A BLOCK ON the SUN Newspapers Website and FOX news -

    That would at least be some positive achievement out of this shambles

    I live in the UK and I see a totally inept, totally technophobic government try to work the 21st century with 19th century tools and mentality.
    We have 2 little rich boys trying to run a country that is in a shambles because they don't understand anything - basically.
    Oh and to keep the balance - the other

  • by polyp2000 (444682) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @07:38AM (#44534845) Homepage Journal
    There are a variety of solutions to these problems.using alternative DNS is one but this does not work in the case that IP addresses are blocked. Proxies may also work but in the end these are reliant on no blocks existing on the proxies network .Even then how long before proxies are blocked ?TOR seems like a good idea but in reality its a bit slow and thus you couldn't just route all your traffic through it. What is the long term solution to this?

    Does anyone have any long term predictions or ideas about how we might work around this in a way that performs well and is more future proof?

    FYI. EZTV is also blocked with BT infinity. And my VM at Bytemark cannot access either

    my fear is that what happens when Microsoft or apple start putting pressure on the government to block things like cyanogen or the Linux kernel?

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