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Piracy Censorship Government Networking Privacy The Internet United Kingdom

UK Man Faces Prison For Circumventing UK's Pirate Site Blockade (torrentfreak.com) 130

An anonymous reader writes with news from TorrenFreak that a Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit in the UK has charged a man for operating proxy sites and services that let fellow Internet users in the UK bypass local pirate site blockades. In a first of its kind prosecution, the Bakersfield resident is charged with several fraud offenses and one count of converting and/or transferring criminal property. During the summer of 2014, City of London Police arrested the then 20-year-old Callum Haywood of Bakersfield for his involvement with several proxy sites and services. Haywood was interrogated at a police station and later released on bail. He agreed to voluntarily hand over several domain names, but the police meanwhile continued working on the case. I wonder if the same logic applies to customers of the shrinking number of VPNs that can be used to bypass other kinds of country-level controls.
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UK Man Faces Prison For Circumventing UK's Pirate Site Blockade

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  • Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by liqu1d ( 4349325 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @04:56AM (#51767207)
    Wonder how much taxpayers money was wasted on this effort.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @05:47AM (#51767313)
      This is the world now. It is a form of corporate welfare. Issues that should be civil and handled by the corporation's at their cost are legislated into criminal issues where the taxpayers bear the cost burden. Privatize the profits, socialize the expenses.

      Of course this does not even touch upon whether it is ethical to jail people for these types of offenses. Hint, it isn't.

      • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

        by infolation ( 840436 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @07:49AM (#51767627)
        Then let's set aside 'ethical' issues, and look at it, step-by-step, from a legal perspective, since that is how the police view it. I'm not a lawyer, but UK law is written in fairly plain english:

        There is no law in the UK that stops people accessing The Pirate Bay. There is a court injunction, obtain by a consortium of media companies. [wikipedia.org]

        The injunction tells UK ISPs they must block access to specific websites (URLS) under a 'section 97' [wikipedia.org]

        That refers to section 97 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 [legislation.gov.uk]

        The High Court (in Scotland, the Court of Session) shall have power to grant an injunction against a service provider, where that service provider has actual knowledge of another person using their service to infringe copyright.

        The service providers listed in that injunction were Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2, Virgin Media and BT [wikipedia.org]

        This has also been an issue [bbc.co.uk] with other Pirate Bay proxy sites, for example the BFI attempted to get the Pirate Party's Pirate Bay proxy shut down, unsuccessfully.

        Amongst all these laws and injunctions, I don't see mention of anything that would refer to Callum Haywood's site, except the unsuccessful BFI attempt, since that's the only one that concerns a proxy. His site isn't one that's listed in the injunction but, even if it was, the UK ISPs listed should already be blocking it at a network level in the same way they block the original Pirate Bay.

        • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

          by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @08:21AM (#51767727) Homepage

          Except circumventing a court order or helping someone else do so is an offence in itself, contempt of court I believe.

          • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 24, 2016 @08:46AM (#51767823)

            Was his service for the ISPs or the citizens?
            Was the court order for the ISPs or the citizens?

            If the court order did not mention him, he was not circumventing the court order.
            If the answers to the above questions don't match, he wasn't helping someone else circumvent the court order.

          • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

            by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @08:56AM (#51767873) Journal
            This didn't circumvent the court order. The order didn't apply to Joe Sixpack, it applied to a specific list of ISPs and ordered them to take a specific set of actions.

            In no way does running a proxy interfere with the ability of BT to block an official list of UKIP... er, I mean, piracy sites.
            • by Anonymous Coward

              As the court orders instructed the specified ISPs to block access to certain URLs, if one of their customers accesses one of the URLs via a proxy, or otherwise, then it is the ISP which is breaking the court order. How the ISP enforces this is the ISP's problem.

      • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @10:25AM (#51768331) Homepage

        Issues that should be civil and handled by the corporation's at their cost are legislated into criminal issues where the taxpayers bear the cost burden. Privatize the profits, socialize the expenses.

        Absolutely true.

        Notice how neatly they've maneuvered the DHS and ICE into policing copyright?

        Notice how they've paid the US to force this into "trade" negotiations, and effectively write new laws for other countries?

        America is absolutely leading the charge in the globalization of corporate welfare to ensure that corporations have more rights than people. And they've taken the public stance that them being on the payroll of corporations is somehow going to be better for us all ... I have no idea if they believe this or not, or they're just laughing as they take money from corporate interests to sell out ours.

        Welcome to the global oligarchy, because they now enjoy many legal rights you and I no longer have .... like having the police protect us from abuse of the law.

        The police now exist to enforce the will of their corporate overlords. Holy fuck, you can't even make this shit up.

        But, make no mistake about it, the will of the corporations carries far more weight than any rights we think we're supposed to have, and the system is now stacked against us. And that was bought and sold in the open by lobbyists.

        Where the fuck is Reg the Blank when you need him?

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        It's also important to realize the differences between legal systems. If you're unfamiliar with how the courts work in the UK then, at least traditionally, unless a plain text reading of the law suggests this AND the magistrate(?) agrees that the defendant was the target - they may well not even go very far into the proceedings. They write some zany laws and let the courts interpret them - lots and lots of leeway. If you're from the US, it's not a damned thing like what we've got. Australia and, I think, Ca

        • There's a name for it but I'll be damned if I can remember it at this point.

          Common Law (as opposed to Civil Law)

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            Nice. Thanks. ;-)

            My brain doesn't work that way. I'll remember details but have no idea what the name or acronym is. I can tell you all sorts of history but if you ask for a specific date or the names of the units (sometimes the people) involved then I may not be able to tell you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No where near as much as the police expended on this investigation [wikipedia.org]. They moved hell and high water to help those rich cunts. Next time some prick steals your car, or bicycle, or even breaks into your home: just note how fucking useless the cops are. They simply don't give a shit. Fucking traitors to the working class.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        PS: If anyone cares, the investigation into this burglary most likely utilised illegal GCHQ data. At no point has *anyone* revealed how the men were found and arrested. My money is on parallel construction.

        • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ConfusedVorlon ( 657247 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @09:57AM (#51768179) Homepage

          Unlike the USA, I don't think there would be any legal problem with that.
          In UK law, the GCHQ data is legal (or at least - you'd have a hard time proving otherwise)
          If GCHQ provided data to the police, then that's just a source giving a tip-off to the police.

          We don't have any equivalent of the fourth amendment, and the 'fruit of the poisonous tree' doctrine is not nearly so strong here if it applies at all.

          Having said that - it seems perfectly plausible that they police got a tip-off from someone other than GCHQ. Perhaps somebody who wanted the £20k reward - and who quite properly is not being named.

          IANAL

          • Unlike the USA, I don't think there would be any legal problem with that.

            That doesn't necessarily mean the gov't toadies want to admit it.

        • A CCTV recording of the incident was released by the Daily Mirror before the police released it. The video recording showed people nicknamed by the newspaper as "Mr Ginger, Mr Strong, Mr Montana, The Gent, The Tall Man and The Old Man".[15][16]

          Yeah, some serious parallel construction needed there. They were caught on camera.

          • "They were caught on camera."

            Cameras which the gang had paid someone to disable - he'd failed to do so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, it is worth noting this is the City of London Police [wikipedia.org], that is the "square mile" police force and so not the regular London Metropolitan police. These chumps have deliberately profiled themselves as lapdogs of big entertainment, not surprising since the City of London itself is entirely corporate with corporations for voters and so on, so it may well not directly be taxpayer money they're burning.

      Even so, it's not the taxpayer money that's the problem here. The pernicious venom of censorship is.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Well, it is worth noting this is the City of London Police [wikipedia.org], that is the "square mile" police force and so not the regular London Metropolitan police. These chumps have deliberately profiled themselves as lapdogs of big entertainment, not surprising since the City of London itself is entirely corporate with corporations for voters and so on, so it may well not directly be taxpayer money they're burning.

        Even so, it's not the taxpayer money that's the problem here. The pernicious venom of censorship is.

        Censorship undermines the basic philosophy of the internet. The thing that has made the internet such a great social phenomenon is that, by it's very nature the internet views censorship as damage and routes around it. This has stopped a lot of attempted media control by corrupt governments from being able to cover up social injustices, genocides etc.. This version of censorship looks like it is the garden variety media companies sticking it to the lower class to offset their claimed losses due to piracy,

      • Well, it is worth noting this is the City of London Police,. These chumps have deliberately profiled themselves as lapdogs of big entertainment, not surprising since the City of London itself is entirely corporate with corporations for voters and so on, so it may well not directly be taxpayer money they're burning.

        The City of London has very few residents, being almost entirely offices, pubs, cafes and shops. Hardly suprising that they mostly investigate crimes against businesses, who are indeed the main local taxpayers. "Big entertainment" ? You are thinking of the West End of London, it's not part of the City.

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 24, 2016 @06:17AM (#51767387)

      Not as much as you might suppose. The "City of London" Police force is not the general police force for the City of London (Odd I know) it is literally only responsible of the area inside the "Square mile" that is a bought-and-paid for feudal fiefdom inside the rest of the UK democracy. The "police" there pretty much serve corporate interests only. Thankfully very few people actually live inside the square mile not their influence is much less than you'd expect. It is a very strange legacy of out past that is now very difficult for us to rid ourselves of, because of corporate backing.

      But it doesn't represent London proper nor the rest of the UK

      • Yes, when Brits talk about "The city" they are referring to London's financial district, it's the equivalent of "Wall St" in the US.
        • Fitting, in that they both seem to control government much more than anybody else does.

          We don't need a fucking illuminati when the government is on the payroll of corporations and now officially responsible for policing their interests.

          Because that is literally the situation we find ourselves in.

      • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

        by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @08:46AM (#51767819) Journal

        Not as much as you might suppose. The "City of London" Police force is not the general police force for the City of London (Odd I know) it is literally only responsible of the area inside the "Square mile"

        The square mile is the City of London. Greater London area is an agglomeration of a large number of towns, cities, boroughs and other miscellenia such as City of London, City of Westminster, and bits stolen from the surrounding counties, such as Kingston which is the county town of Surrey despite being in Greater London.

        What everyone thinks of as London is Greater London.

        But yes, the City of London is weird. From an administrative point of view, it's older than England, never mind the UK. It's current charter dates from 1067 (England dates from 930 or so), but that recognises its previous charter which is sadly lost to history as it woud have happened well inside the Dark Ages. Since it was already there, the laws got crafted around it.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        The biggest problem with this arrangement is the City of London Police force, which has the ability to enforce corporate interpretations of law anywhere in the UK. This is clearly a civil matter at best.

        • One of the problems is that people roll over and play dead when CoLP show up with unenforceable warrants (they're out of their jurisdiction)

          A couple of targets have called their local fuzz, who have shown up and told CoLP to piss off.

          CoLP have also repeatedly seized domains without court orders (illegal) thanks to registrars who roll over and play dead on a letter on police letterhead.

          There have been more than enough convictions of corrupt british police to underscore that this is a really bad idea. A lot o

    • Wonder how much taxpayers money was wasted on this effort.

      Surveillance seems to be the British equivalent of the DEA.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Although laws blocking content are draconian, why wouldn't someone expect the government to frown upon operating websites to circumvent the law? It seems like political activism to overturn the law would be a better course of action. Although copyright holders may be entitled to damages, I don't see why they should be able to enforce censorship.

  • Really not legal (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I will find it hard if they find him guilty under the charges, but with DUMB judges who believe the cattrap the plod talk about I suspect he will do down. The thing is that UK BLOCKING is not legal. Their is not UK law derived from Parliment that create the law, hell not ALL ISPs are are even covered by the court order to block site as it only the few biggest one which have to block. So this guy is being led to slaughter for a crime that does not exist and in now legal law, hell it would have to be EVERY
    • So this guy is being led to slaughter for a crime that does not exist

      UK judges are trained rather than elected, they know the law and will see this for the publicity stunt that it is. Of course the media will have forgotten all about it when they guy walks out of court (if he ever gets there). OTOH unlike the UK, a false arrest suit in the US could make the victim richer than Scrooge McDuck.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Canadian judges are the same way, the justice system is for all intents the same between both countries. The difference seems to be the laws, and the fact that the UK decided to go "hail corporate" unlike other commonwealth countries. And I see a lot of Americans trumpet how great the justice system is up here. Though there are plenty things wrong such as light sentences and allowing absolute garbage back out on the streets after they have 100+ violent assaults, and not actually throwing them in jail unt

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      Web blocking certainly is legal under UK law, that doesn't make it right of course, but it's certainly legal because we have no inherent legal right in the UK to wholly uncensored internet access.

      I'd like to think though that this guy has a reasonable chance of going free (though it might not happen until appeal, lower courts are generally inept on technical issues - see the Doncaster airport bomb threat tweet case). The OiNK owner got away with it and he was running an actual piracy site rather than a simp

      • Web blocking certainly is legal under UK law

        And under European law, in its current form:

        Article 8(2), directive 2001/29/EC [europa.eu]: "Each Member State shall take the measures necessary to ensure that rightholders whose interests are affected by an infringing activity carried out on its territory can bring an action for damages and/or apply for an injunction and, where appropriate, for the seizure of infringing material as well as of devices, products or components referred to in Article 6(2)."

        Injunctive relief (such as a blocking injunction) is specifically recognised as acceptable by the law which grants ISPs "mere conduit" status:

        Article 12(3), directive 2000/31/EC [europa.eu]: "3. This Article shall not affect the possibility for a court or administrative authority, in accordance with Member States' legal systems, of requiring the service provider to terminate or prevent an infringement."

        Of course, this is just law, and could be struck down by a court on, for example, human rights grounds, and the CJEU's Advocate General made some interesting comments on human rights considerations in the context of blocking of open, free Wi-Fi recently but, to date, the courts have been relatively comfortable granting bl

    • Exactly. It's only the top ten ISPs who are required to block, I believe. The rest (mine included) are wide open.
  • by GeekWithAKnife ( 2717871 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @05:20AM (#51767261)

    ...and throw him to the floor sir? -oh yes.
  • by Mostly a lurker ( 634878 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @05:49AM (#51767319)

    Using proxies to bypass government mandated restrictions on Internet use is illegal in some other authoritarian countries. Why should be UK be any different?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@worl d 3 . net> on Thursday March 24, 2016 @06:27AM (#51767405) Homepage

      This isn't a government mandated block. A private company took the largest ISPs to court and got an injunction requiring them to block a long list of web sites. Smaller ISPs are unaffected.

      The correct course of action would for that company to now ask for an injunction against this guy, asking the court to make him stop providing proxies to bypass the other blocks. Instead, they got their private police force, the City of London Police, to treat him as a criminal. If you were not aware, the City of London is a small area in London that is basically run by corporations. Corporations get to vote on their elected officials, and the City of London Police basically work for them.

      This is extreme abuse of power by the City of London Police.

      • Isn't the city of London technically just a small area around the financial district of the greater London area?
      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        This isn't a government mandated block. A private company took the largest ISPs to court and got an injunction requiring them to block a long list of web sites. Smaller ISPs are unaffected.

        The correct course of action would for that company to now ask for an injunction against this guy, asking the court to make him stop providing proxies to bypass the other blocks. Instead, they got their private police force, the City of London Police, to treat him as a criminal. If you were not aware, the City of London i

      • by theCoder ( 23772 )

        This isn't a government mandated block. A private company took the largest ISPs to court and got an injunction requiring them to block a long list of web sites.

        Isn't the court a part of the government? And doesn't it interpret laws passed by the government? Just because the mandate didn't come from the Prime Minister (or the Queen) doesn't mean it isn't government mandated. Those ISPs wouldn't be blocking any sites just because a private company told them to.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In China I can download all the copyright stuff I want. Then I go back to Hong Kong (or just put on my VPN) to access the censored stuff. But by doing so I can no longer access some pirate Chinese site that only accept China IP address.

      Each country has different standards of acceptable and not. It's hard to say one is better than other, like blocking political stuffs is worse than blocking copyright violations. All are bad, and we as citizens of whatever country we come from have to oppose censorship, no ma

    • I like that you mention China considering that it is NOT illegal to bypass the great wall. It is discouraged, there is an active program to clamp down on VPNs, but it is NOT illegal to use or provide.

      Now what you do on the other end of that proxy can quickly get you into hot water.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A man accused of a crime in Bakersfield is imprisoned. Later he escapes but is re-captured, only to be used in a game show where contestants fight for survival.
    Is Callum Haywood ready to be The Running Man?

  • I'm glad to know that given all the cuts on the police force that Osborne is talking about, the humming a tune in the shower police unit remains well-staffed. Right along the lines of the "Big Society" trumpeted by Cameron.

    After all, who cares about assault, burglary, etc ? Good luck having the police respond to a call reporting assault. Good citizens should band together and defend against those, the police is too busy with much more serious crimes. Like not paying for the right to hum a tune in the shower

    • Re:Reassuring (Score:4, Informative)

      by Christian Smith ( 3497 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @07:53AM (#51767645) Homepage

      I'm glad to know that given all the cuts on the police force that Osborne is talking about, the humming a tune in the shower police unit remains well-staffed. Right along the lines of the "Big Society" trumpeted by Cameron.

      After all, who cares about assault, burglary, etc ? Good luck having the police respond to a call reporting assault. Good citizens should band together and defend against those, the police is too busy with much more serious crimes. Like not paying for the right to hum a tune in the shower.

      Last time I was assaulted in the street, the next police officer I flagged down was more concerned that I happened to be inadvertently spitting blood in his face.

      • by rhazz ( 2853871 )

        the next police officer I flagged down

        Was the previous police officer the guy that assaulted you?

  • This appears to be a "spirit of the law" sort of case. While nothing he has done is in itself criminal (he's laundered no money, and personally committed no fraud) he has assisted others in potentially performing now criminal acts.

    So how is this any different to myriad of tax evasion schemes, which also fly in the face of the "spirit of the law"? I'd rather the powers that be concentrate on the (IMO) fraudulent actions of large (and small) corporations denying the people of this country reasonable tax incom

    • he has assisted others in potentially performing now criminal acts

      So, if you sell someone a gun, have you assisted them in "potentially" performing criminal acts?

      Is visiting a website a criminal act? Linking to a website? What is our threshold for the hypothetical act of hypothetically allowing people to commit hypothetical crimes for which only they are actually responsible for hypothetically doing?

      Sending someone to prison for running a web proxy to bypass a restriction placed on ISPs by a court as per

  • It's still ridiculous that jail time is considered suitable for non-violent crimes. Copyright infringement is a civil matter with fines. Why should this be treated differently?

  • This is even more daft when you consider that it's only the big ISPs that block those sites anyway. Smaller ISPs, even though they go via BT's network, still allow access to them all.

    Heck, back when Wikipedia was blocked a few years ago (due to a contentious album cover) I could still access it via my ISP at the time, Entanet... which meant they weren't even implementing the super-secret block list as operated by the Internet Watch Foundation.

  • by nukenerd ( 172703 ) on Thursday March 24, 2016 @09:51AM (#51768147)
    I'd never heard of Bakersfield, and Googling brings up somewhere in California. Yet TFA refers to a UK man, and he is going on trial in Nottingham (UK). Can someone explain?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakersfield,_Nottingham

      Next question.

  • The article says the perpetrator was 20 years old. Like the RIAA going after grandmothers and teenage children, they selected a target least likely to afford to defend themselves. How many 20 year old men have deep enough pockets to afford a lawyer?
  • ...a conviction is another. The PIPCU will have taken legal advice, I'm sure, but just because the police bring a case, that doesn't automatically mean that a court will see things their way. It may yet prove an interesting one to watch.
    • "...a conviction is another. "

      Indeed. The PIPCU have yet to secure a single solitary criminal conviction in any case.

      In the cases where targets have called their local police when PIPCU have shown up, the locals have quite rightly assessed that it's a civil matter and PIPCU have no right to be onsite - moreover as they have not consulted the local police before showing up (legal requirement), their presence is a criminal matter all in itself. Thus you're now looking at police telling police to go away or fa

  • That's what you get when let a Corporate police force run amok and arrest ordinary citizens outside of the Corporation's domain. You were watching Robocop eons ago and thought we'd never see corporate police going after citizens? Well, here you go.
  • Because he did not violate any laws.. with a good legal team. he will be able to prove his innocence. If, however, he cannot afford a good legal team he will surely get sent down the river for life. And pleez no cracks about "innocent until proven guilty"! Does *anyone* even still believe that's how the real world works?
    Justice in this case is absolutely "up for sale". :hint: Where the F#$k is the EFF in this case? Shouldn't they be all over it with support?

  • If only he had been operating a service which obscured the identity and origin of its users, he would not have been caught.

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