Tag Archives: Censorship

The Effects of Iran’s Telegram Ban

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/06/the_effects_of_4.html

The Center for Human Rights in Iran has released a report outlining the effect’s of that country’s ban on Telegram, a secure messaging app used by about half of the country.

The ban will disrupt the most important, uncensored platform for information and communication in Iran, one that is used extensively by activists, independent and citizen journalists, dissidents and international media. It will also impact electoral politics in Iran, as centrist, reformist and other relatively moderate political groups that are allowed to participate in Iran’s elections have been heavily and successfully using Telegram to promote their candidates and electoral lists during elections. State-controlled domestic apps and media will not provide these groups with such a platform, even as they continue to do so for conservative and hardline political forces in the country, significantly aiding the latter.

From a Wired article:

Researchers found that the ban has had broad effects, hindering and chilling individual speech, forcing political campaigns to turn to state-sponsored media tools, limiting journalists and activists, curtailing international interactions, and eroding businesses that grew their infrastructure and reach off of Telegram.

It’s interesting that the analysis doesn’t really center around the security properties of Telegram, but more around its ubiquity as a messaging platform in the country.

Russian Censorship of Telegram

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/06/russian_censors.html

Internet censors have a new strategy in their bid to block applications and websites: pressuring the large cloud providers that host them. These providers have concerns that are much broader than the targets of censorship efforts, so they have the choice of either standing up to the censors or capitulating in order to maximize their business. Today’s Internet largely reflects the dominance of a handful of companies behind the cloud services, search engines and mobile platforms that underpin the technology landscape. This new centralization radically tips the balance between those who want to censor parts of the Internet and those trying to evade censorship. When the profitable answer is for a software giant to acquiesce to censors’ demands, how long can Internet freedom last?

The recent battle between the Russian government and the Telegram messaging app illustrates one way this might play out. Russia has been trying to block Telegram since April, when a Moscow court banned it after the company refused to give Russian authorities access to user messages. Telegram, which is widely used in Russia, works on both iPhone and Android, and there are Windows and Mac desktop versions available. The app offers optional end-to-end encryption, meaning that all messages are encrypted on the sender’s phone and decrypted on the receiver’s phone; no part of the network can eavesdrop on the messages.

Since then, Telegram has been playing cat-and-mouse with the Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor by varying the IP address the app uses to communicate. Because Telegram isn’t a fixed website, it doesn’t need a fixed IP address. Telegram bought tens of thousands of IP addresses and has been quickly rotating through them, staying a step ahead of censors. Cleverly, this tactic is invisible to users. The app never sees the change, or the entire list of IP addresses, and the censor has no clear way to block them all.

A week after the court ban, Roskomnadzor countered with an unprecedented move of its own: blocking 19 million IP addresses, many on Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. The collateral damage was widespread: The action inadvertently broke many other web services that use those platforms, and Roskomnadzor scaled back after it became clear that its action had affected services critical for Russian business. Even so, the censor is still blocking millions of IP addresses.

More recently, Russia has been pressuring Apple not to offer the Telegram app in its iPhone App Store. As of this writing, Apple has not complied, and the company has allowed Telegram to download a critical software update to iPhone users (after what the app’s founder called a delay last month). Roskomnadzor could further pressure Apple, though, including by threatening to turn off its entire iPhone app business in Russia.

Telegram might seem a weird app for Russia to focus on. Those of us who work in security don’t recommend the program, primarily because of the nature of its cryptographic protocols. In general, proprietary cryptography has numerous fatal security flaws. We generally recommend Signal for secure SMS messaging, or, if having that program on your computer is somehow incriminating, WhatsApp. (More than 1.5 billion people worldwide use WhatsApp.) What Telegram has going for it is that it works really well on lousy networks. That’s why it is so popular in places like Iran and Afghanistan. (Iran is also trying to ban the app.)

What the Russian government doesn’t like about Telegram is its anonymous broadcast feature­ — channel capability and chats — ­which makes it an effective platform for political debate and citizen journalism. The Russians might not like that Telegram is encrypted, but odds are good that they can simply break the encryption. Telegram’s role in facilitating uncontrolled journalism is the real issue.

Iran attempts to block Telegram have been more successful than Russia’s, less because Iran’s censorship technology is more sophisticated but because Telegram is not willing to go as far to defend Iranian users. The reasons are not rooted in business decisions. Simply put, Telegram is a Russian product and the designers are more motivated to poke Russia in the eye. Pavel Durov, Telegram’s founder, has pledged millions of dollars to help fight Russian censorship.

For the moment, Russia has lost. But this battle is far from over. Russia could easily come back with more targeted pressure on Google, Amazon and Apple. A year earlier, Zello used the same trick Telegram is using to evade Russian censors. Then, Roskomnadzor threatened to block all of Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud; and in that instance, both companies forced Zello to stop its IP-hopping censorship-evasion tactic.

Russia could also further develop its censorship infrastructure. If its capabilities were as finely honed as China’s, it would be able to more effectively block Telegram from operating. Right now, Russia can block only specific IP addresses, which is too coarse a tool for this issue. Telegram’s voice capabilities in Russia are significantly degraded, however, probably because high-capacity IP addresses are easier to block.

Whatever its current frustrations, Russia might well win in the long term. By demonstrating its willingness to suffer the temporary collateral damage of blocking major cloud providers, it prompted cloud providers to block another and more effective anti-censorship tactic, or at least accelerated the process. In April, Google and Amazon banned­ — and technically blocked­ — the practice of “domain fronting,” a trick anti-censorship tools use to get around Internet censors by pretending to be other kinds of traffic. Developers would use popular websites as a proxy, routing traffic to their own servers through another website­ — in this case Google.com­ — to fool censors into believing the traffic was intended for Google.com. The anonymous web-browsing tool Tor has used domain fronting since 2014. Signal, since 2016. Eliminating the capability is a boon to censors worldwide.

Tech giants have gotten embroiled in censorship battles for years. Sometimes they fight and sometimes they fold, but until now there have always been options. What this particular fight highlights is that Internet freedom is increasingly in the hands of the world’s largest Internet companies. And while freedom may have its advocates — ­the American Civil Liberties Union has tweeted its support for those companies, and some 12,000 people in Moscow protested against the Telegram ban­ — actions such as disallowing domain fronting illustrate that getting the big tech companies to sacrifice their near-term commercial interests will be an uphill battle. Apple has already removed anti-censorship apps from its Chinese app store.

In 1993, John Gilmore famously said that “The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” That was technically true when he said it but only because the routing structure of the Internet was so distributed. As centralization increases, the Internet loses that robustness, and censorship by governments and companies becomes easier.

This essay previously appeared on Lawfare.com.

Flight Sim Company Threatens Reddit Mods Over “Libelous” DRM Posts

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/flight-sim-company-threatens-reddit-mods-over-libellous-drm-posts-180604/

Earlier this year, in an effort to deal with piracy of their products, flight simulator company FlightSimLabs took drastic action by installing malware on customers’ machines.

The story began when a Reddit user reported something unusual in his download of FlightSimLabs’ A320X module. A file – test.exe – was being flagged up as a ‘Chrome Password Dump’ tool, something which rang alarm bells among flight sim fans.

As additional information was made available, the story became even more sensational. After first dodging the issue with carefully worded statements, FlightSimLabs admitted that it had installed a password dumper onto ALL users’ machines – whether they were pirates or not – in an effort to catch a particular software cracker and launch legal action.

It was an incredible story that no doubt did damage to FlightSimLabs’ reputation. But the now the company is at the center of a new storm, again centered around anti-piracy measures and again focused on Reddit.

Just before the weekend, Reddit user /u/walkday reported finding something unusual in his A320X module, the same module that caused the earlier controversy.

“The latest installer of FSLabs’ A320X puts two cmdhost.exe files under ‘system32\’ and ‘SysWOW64\’ of my Windows directory. Despite the name, they don’t open a command-line window,” he reported.

“They’re a part of the authentication because, if you remove them, the A320X won’t get loaded. Does someone here know more about cmdhost.exe? Why does FSLabs give them such a deceptive name and put them in the system folders? I hate them for polluting my system folder unless, of course, it is a dll used by different applications.”

Needless to say, the news that FSLabs were putting files into system folders named to make them look like system files was not well received.

“Hiding something named to resemble Window’s “Console Window Host” process in system folders is a huge red flag,” one user wrote.

“It’s a malware tactic used to deceive users into thinking the executable is a part of the OS, thus being trusted and not deleted. Really dodgy tactic, don’t trust it and don’t trust them,” opined another.

With a disenchanted Reddit userbase simmering away in the background, FSLabs took to Facebook with a statement to quieten down the masses.

“Over the past few hours we have become aware of rumors circulating on social media about the cmdhost file installed by the A320-X and wanted to clear up any confusion or misunderstanding,” the company wrote.

“cmdhost is part of our eSellerate infrastructure – which communicates between the eSellerate server and our product activation interface. It was designed to reduce the number of product activation issues people were having after the FSX release – which have since been resolved.”

The company noted that the file had been checked by all major anti-virus companies and everything had come back clean, which does indeed appear to be the case. Nevertheless, the critical Reddit thread remained, bemoaning the actions of a company which probably should have known better than to irritate fans after February’s debacle. In response, however, FSLabs did just that once again.

In private messages to the moderators of the /r/flightsim sub-Reddit, FSLabs’ Marketing and PR Manager Simon Kelsey suggested that the mods should do something about the thread in question or face possible legal action.

“Just a gentle reminder of Reddit’s obligations as a publisher in order to ensure that any libelous content is taken down as soon as you become aware of it,” Kelsey wrote.

Noting that FSLabs welcomes “robust fair comment and opinion”, Kelsey gave the following advice.

“The ‘cmdhost.exe’ file in question is an entirely above board part of our anti-piracy protection and has been submitted to numerous anti-virus providers in order to verify that it poses no threat. Therefore, ANY suggestion that current or future products pose any threat to users is absolutely false and libelous,” he wrote, adding:

“As we have already outlined in the past, ANY suggestion that any user’s data was compromised during the events of February is entirely false and therefore libelous.”

Noting that FSLabs would “hate for lawyers to have to get involved in this”, Kelsey advised the /r/flightsim mods to ensure that no such claims were allowed to remain on the sub-Reddit.

But after not receiving the response he would’ve liked, Kelsey wrote once again to the mods. He noted that “a number of unsubstantiated and highly defamatory comments” remained online and warned that if something wasn’t done to clean them up, he would have “no option” than to pass the matter to FSLabs’ legal team.

Like the first message, this second effort also failed to have the desired effect. In fact, the moderators’ response was to post an open letter to Kelsey and FSLabs instead.

“We sincerely disagree that you ‘welcome robust fair comment and opinion’, demonstrated by the censorship on your forums and the attempted censorship on our subreddit,” the mods wrote.

“While what you do on your forum is certainly your prerogative, your rules do not extend to Reddit nor the r/flightsim subreddit. Removing content you disagree with is simply not within our purview.”

The letter, which is worth reading in full, refutes Kelsey’s claims and also suggests that critics of FSLabs may have been subjected to Reddit vote manipulation and coordinated efforts to discredit them.

What will happen next is unclear but the matter has now been placed in the hands of Reddit’s administrators who have agreed to deal with Kelsey and FSLabs’ personally.

It’s a little early to say for sure but it seems unlikely that this will end in a net positive for FSLabs, no matter what decision Reddit’s admins take.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Директивата за авторско право: ход на ревизията: да се действа сега

Post Syndicated from nellyo original https://nellyo.wordpress.com/2018/05/26/copyright-5/

Ново развитие в ревизията на авторското право в ЕС – става ясно от  съобщенията на българското председателство, участници в ревизията и Юлия Реда – защото тя имаше много ясен възглед какво иска да се промени в правната рамка (общ режим на изключенията, актуализиране – за да имаме правна рамка, адекватна на технологичното развитие) – и сега следи ангажирано законодателния процес.

Правителствата на държавите от ЕС  са приели позиция  относно реформата на авторските права  без съществени промени по чл.11 (новото право за издателите)  и чл.13 (филтрите на входа), проектът е на сайта на Реда,  Politico дава измененията, засягащи правото на издателите, в цвят.

Сега Парламентът трябва да ги спре, пише Реда.

 Сега имате шанса да окажете влияние – шанс, който ще изчезне след две години, когато всички “изведнъж” ще се сблъскат с предизвикателството да се  внедряват филтри   и link tax.  Експертите почти единодушно се съгласяват, че проектът за реформата на авторското право е наистина лош.

Update: Member State governments have just adopted their position on #copyright, with no significant changes to the #CensorshipMachines and #LinkTax provisions. It is now up to Parliament to stop them and #FixCopyright. https://t.co/1JwNvQn24n pic.twitter.com/KAgqV3YYG1

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Две графики от сайта на Реда – за двата текста,  против които се събира подкрепа (вж и преподавателите) – за  отношението по държави и по партии в ЕП:

 

 

Police Launch Investigation into Huge Pirate Manga Site Mangamura

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-launch-investigation-into-huge-pirate-manga-site-mangamura-180514/

Back in March, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the government was considering measures to prohibit access to pirate sites.

While protecting all content is the overall aim, it became clear that the government was determined to protect Japan’s successful manga and anime industries.

It didn’t take long for a reaction. On Friday April 13, the government introduced emergency website blocking measures, seeking cooperation from the country’s ISPs.

NTT Communications Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and NTT Plala Inc., quickly announced they would block three leading pirate sites – Mangamura, AniTube! and MioMio which have a huge following in Japan. However, after taking the country by storm during the past two years, Mangamura had already called it quits.

On April 17, in the wake of the government announcement, Mangamura disappeared. It’s unclear whether its vanishing act was directly connected to recent developments but a program on national public broadcasting organization NHK, which claimed to have traced the site’s administrators back to the United States, Ukraine, and other regions, can’t have helped.

Further details released this morning reveal the intense pressure Mangamura was under. With 100 million visits a month it was bound to attract attention and according to Mainichi, several publishing giants ran out of patience last year and reported the platform to the authorities.

Kodansha, Japan’s largest publisher, and three other companies filed criminal complaints with Fukuoka Prefectural Police, Oita Prefectural Police, and other law enforcement departments, claiming the site violated their rights.

“The complaints, which were lodged against an unknown suspect or suspects, were filed on behalf of manga artists who are copyright holders to the pirated works, including Hajime Isayama and Eiichiro Oda, known for their wildly popular ‘Shingeki no Kyojin’ (‘Attack on Titan,’ published by Kodansha) and ‘One Piece’ (Shueisha Inc.), respectively,” the publication reports.

Mangamura launch in January 2016 and became a huge hit in Japan. Anti-piracy group Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), which counts publishing giant Kodansha among its members, reports that between September 2017 and February 2018, the site was accessed 620 million times.

Based on a “one visit, one manga title read” formula, CODA estimates that the site caused damages to the manga industry of 319.2 billion yen – around US$2.91 billion.

As a result, police are now stepping up their efforts to identify Mangamura’s operators. Whether that will prove fruitful will remain to be seen but in the meantime, Japan’s site-blocking efforts continue to cause controversy.

As reported last month, lawyer and NTT customer Yuichi Nakazawa launched legal action against NTT, demanding that the corporation immediately end its site-blocking operations.

“NTT’s decision was made arbitrarily on the site without any legal basis. No matter how legitimate the objective of copyright infringement is, it is very dangerous,” Nakazawa told TorrentFreak.

“I felt that ‘freedom,’ which is an important value of the Internet, was threatened. Actually, when the interruption of communications had begun, the company thought it would be impossible to reverse the situation, so I filed a lawsuit at this stage.”

Japan’s Constitution and its Telecommunications Business Act both have “no censorship” clauses, meaning that site-blocking has the potential to be ruled illegal. It’s also illegal in Japan to invade the privacy of Internet users’ communications, which some observers have argued is necessary if users are to be prevented from accessing pirate sites.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

#FixCopyright #SaveTheLink #CensorshipMachines

Post Syndicated from nellyo original https://nellyo.wordpress.com/2018/04/28/fixcopyright-savethelink-censorshipmachines/

На 26 април 2018 г. учени от 25 водещи изследователски института за интелектуална собственост в Европа  публикуваха отворено писмо, изразяващо сериозни опасения относно  предложената директива за авторско  право.

Според авторите след балансиран проектодоклад на докладчика на Европейския парламент Тереза ​​Комодини (Доклад Comodini,  10 март 2017 г.) неотдавнашни текстове от новия докладчик Axel Voss и българското председателство  на Съвета на Европейският съюз изглежда водят към компромис, който не отговаря на целите на директивата за подобряване на избора, достъпа и справедливостта в цифровата среда.

Има научен консенсус
– че предложеното изключение   по чл. 3 няма да постигне целта си да стимулира иновациите и научните изследвания, ако се ограничи до определени организации,
– че предложенията за право на  издателите по чл. 11 ще благоприятстват по-скоро интересите на издателските интереси в пресата, отколкото иновативната журналистика,
– и че предложенията за чл. 13 застрашават ползата от  Директивата за електронната търговия (2000/31 / ЕО), която споделя отговорността за прилагането между носителите на авторски права и доставчиците на услуги.

169 представители на академичните среди предупреждават за недобре замислените планове за въвеждането на ново право на интелектуална собственост (сродно право за издателите). Те напомнят, че широк спектър от заинтересовани групи вече представи становища, че Директивата за авторското право в настоящия си вид няма да бъде в обществен интерес.

Близо 150 неправителствени организации също се противопоставят на актуалния проект. Според тях предопределено е, че транспониране на  законодателство в този вид ще е  кошмар. Същото се отнася и до проверката на съответствието на директивата с  Хартата на основните права на ЕС и Бернската конвенция. Отворено писмо

По стечение на обстоятелствата името на България  ще остане свързано с тази директива. Ако това ни интересува.

*

На 27 април 2018 г. (вчера) по план в COREPER се обсъжда  предоставяне на мандат за преговори с Европейския парламент по Директивата за авторското право.  

 (текстът)

Kакво е решил COREPER? според Юлия Реда не е даден мандат:

ISP Sued For Breaching User Privacy After Blocking Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-sued-for-breaching-user-privacy-after-blocking-pirate-sites-180428/

After hinting at moves to curb online piracy last month, on April 13 the Japanese government announced
emergency measures to target websites hosting pirated manga, anime and other types of content.

In common with dozens of counterparts around the world, the government said it favored site-blocking as the first line of defense. However, with no specific legislation to fall back on, authorities asked local ISPs if they’d come along for the ride voluntarily. On Monday, the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) announced that it would.

“We have taken short-term emergency measures until legal systems on site-blocking are implemented,” NTT in a statement.

NTT Communications Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and NTT Plala Inc., said they would target three sites highlighted by the government – Mangamura, AniTube! and MioMio – which together have a huge following in Japan.

The service providers added that at least in the short-term, they would prevent access to the sites using DNS blocking and would restrict access to other sites if requested to do so by the government. But, just a few days on, NTT is already facing problems.

Lawyer Yuichi Nakazawa has now launched legal action against NTT, demanding that the corporation immediately ends its site-blocking operations.

The complaint, filed at the Tokyo District Court, notes that the lawyer uses an Internet connection provided by NTT. Crucially, it also states that in order to block access to the sites in question, NTT would need to spy on customers’ Internet connections to find out if they’re trying to access the banned sites.

The lawyer informs TorrentFreak that the ISP’s decision prompted him into action.

“NTT’s decision was made arbitrarily on the site without any legal basis. No matter how legitimate the objective of copyright infringement is, it is very dangerous,” Nakazawa explains.

“I felt that ‘freedom,’ which is an important value of the Internet, was threatened. Actually, when the interruption of communications had begun, the company thought it would be impossible to reverse the situation, so I filed a lawsuit at this stage.”

Breaches of privacy could present a significant problem under Japanese law. The Telecommunications Business Act guarantees privacy of communications and prevents censorship, as does Article 21 of the Constitution.

“The secrecy of communications being handled by a telecommunications carrier shall not be violated,” the Telecommunications Business Act states, adding that “no communications being handled by a telecommunications carrier shall be censored.”

The Constitution is also clear, stating that “no censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated.”

For his part, lawyer Yuichi Nakazawa is also concerned that his contract with the ISP is being breached.

“There is an Internet connection agreement between me and NTT. I am a customer of NTT. There is no provision in the contract between me and NTT to allow arbitrary interruption of communications,” he explains.

Nakazawa doesn’t appear to be against site-blocking per se, he’s just concerned that relevant laws and agreements are being broken.

“It is necessary to restrict sites of pirated publications but that does not mean you can do anything,” Nakazawa said, as quoted by Mainichi. “We should have sufficient discussions for an appropriate measure, including revising the law.”

The question of whether site-blocking does indeed represent an invasion of privacy will probably come down to how the ISP implements it and how that is interpreted by the courts.

A source familiar with the situation told TF that spying on user connections is clearly a problem but the deployment of an outer network firewall rule that simply prevents traffic passing through might be viewed differently.

Such a rule would provide no secret or private information that wasn’t already available to the ISP when the customer requested a banned site through a web browser, although it still falls foul of the “no censorship” requirements of both the Constitution and Telecommunications Business Act.

NTT Communications has declined to comment on the lawsuit but says it had no plans to backtrack on plans to block the sites. Earlier this week, SoftBank Corp., another ISP considering a blockade, expressed concerns that site-blocking has the potential to infringe secrecy of communications rules.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Japan ISP Says it Will Voluntarily Block Pirate Sites as Major Portal Disappears

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/japan-isp-says-it-will-voluntarily-block-pirate-sites-as-major-portal-disappears-180424/

Speaking at a news conference during March, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the government was considering measures to prohibit access to pirate sites. The country’s manga and anime industries were treasures worth protecting, Suga said.

“The damage is getting worse. We are considering the possibilities of all measures including site blocking. I would like to take countermeasures as soon as possible under the cooperation of the relevant ministries and agencies,” he added.

But with no specific legislation that allows for site-blocking, particularly not on copyright infringement grounds, it appeared that Japan might face an uphill struggle. Indeed, the country’s constitution supports freedom of speech and expressly forbids censorship. Earlier this month, however, matters quickly began to progress.

On Friday April 13, the government said it would introduce an emergency measure to target websites hosting pirated manga, anime and other types of content. It would not force ISPs to comply with its blocking requests but would simply ask for their assistance instead.

The aim was to establish cooperation in advance of an expansion of legislation later this year which was originally introduced to tackle the menace of child pornography.

“Our country’s content industry could be denied a future if manga artists and other creators are robbed of proceeds that should go to them,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The government didn’t have to wait long for a response. The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) announced yesterday that it will begin blocking access to sites that provide unauthorized access to copyrighted content.

“We have taken short-term emergency measures until legal systems on site-blocking are implemented,” NTT in a statement.

NTT Communications Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and NTT Plala Inc., will block access to three sites previously identified by the government – Mangamura, AniTube! and MioMio which have a particularly large following in Japan.

NTT said that it will also restrict access to other sites if requested to do so by the government. The company added that at least in the short-term, it will prevent access to the sites using DNS blocking.

While Anitube and MioMio will be blocked in due course, Mangamura has already disappeared from the Internet. The site was reportedly attracting 100 million visits per month but on April 17 went offline following an apparent voluntary shutdown by its administrators.

AnimeNewsNetwork notes that a news program on NHK dedicated to Mangamura aired last Wednesday. A second episode will reportedly focus on the site’s administrators which NHK claims can be traced back to the United States, Ukraine, and other regions. Whether this exposé played a part in the site’s closure is unclear but that kind of publicity is rarely welcome in the piracy scene.

To date, just three sites have been named by the government as particularly problematic but it’s now promising to set up a consultation on a further response. A bill will also be submitted to parliament to target sites that promote links to content hosted elsewhere, an activity which is not illegal under current law.

Two other major access providers in Japan, KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp., have told local media that their plans to block pirate sites have not yet been finalized.

“The fact that neglecting the situation of infringement of copyright etc. cannot be overlooked is recognized and it is recognized as an important problem to be addressed urgently,” Softbank said in a statement.

“However, since there is concern that blocking infringes secrecy of communications, we need careful discussion. We would like to collaborate with industry organizations involved in telecommunications and consider measures that can be taken from various viewpoints, such as laws, institutions, and operation methods.”

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Telegram Founder Pledges Millions in Bitcoin For VPNs and “Digital Resistance”

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/telegram-founder-pledges-millions-in-bitcoin-for-vpns-and-digital-resistance-180418/

Starting yesterday, Russia went to war with free cross-platform messaging app Telegram. Authorities including the FSB wanted access to Telegram’s encryption keys, but the service refused to hand them over.

As a result, the service – which serviced 200,000,000 people in March alone – came under massive attack. Supported by a court ruling obtained last Friday, authorities ordered ISPs to block huge numbers of IP addresses in an effort to shut Telegram down.

Amazon and Google, whose services Telegram uses, were both hit with censorship measures, with around 1.8 million IP addresses belonging to the Internet giants blocked in an initial wave of action. But the government was just getting warmed up.

In an updated posted by Pavel Durov to Twitter from Switzerland late last night, the Telegram founder confirmed that Russia had massively stepped up the fight against his encrypted messaging platform.

Of course, 15 million IP addresses is a huge volume, particularly since ‘just’ 14 million of Telegram’s users are located in Russia – that’s more than one IP address for each of them. As a result, there are reports of completed unrelated services being affected by the ban, which is to be expected given its widespread nature. But Russia doesn’t want to stop there.

According to Reuters, local telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor asked both Google and Apple [Update: and APKMirror] to remove Telegram from their app stores, to prevent local citizens from gaining access to the software itself. It is unclear whether either company intends to comply but as yet, neither has responded publicly nor taken any noticeable action.

An announcement from Durov last night thanked the companies for not complying with the Russian government’s demands, noting that the efforts so far had proven mostly futile.

“Despite the ban, we haven’t seen a significant drop in user engagement so far, since Russians tend to bypass the ban with VPNs and proxies. We also have been relying on third-party cloud services to remain partly available for our users there,” Durov wrote on Telegram.

“Thank you for your support and loyalty, Russian users of Telegram. Thank you, Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft – for not taking part in political censorship.”

Durov noted that Russia accounts for around 7% of Telegram’s userbase, a figure that could be compensated for with organic growth in just a couple of months, even if Telegram lost access to the entire market. However, the action only appears to have lit a fire under the serial entrepreneur, who now has declared a war of his own against censorship.

“To support internet freedoms in Russia and elsewhere I started giving out bitcoin grants to individuals and companies who run socks5 proxies and VPN,” Durov said.

“I am happy to donate millions of dollars this year to this cause, and hope that other people will follow. I called this Digital Resistance – a decentralized movement standing for digital freedoms and progress globally.”

As founder of not only Telegram but also vKontakte, Russia’s answer to Facebook, Durov is a force to be reckoned with. As such, his promises are unlikely to be hollow ones. While Russia has drawn a line in the sand on encryption, it appears to have energized Durov to take a stand, one that could have a positive effect on anti-censorship measures both in Russia and further afield.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Ревизията на авторското право в ЕС: отлагане на гласуването в ЕП

Post Syndicated from nellyo original https://nellyo.wordpress.com/2018/04/10/censorship_machine/

Отлагане в Европейския парламент на гласуването за Директивата за авторското право, която се обсъжда в момента – включително censorship machine  (член13 от проекта).

Гласуването в парламентарната комисия по правни въпроси JURI  е насрочено за 20-21 юни, Юлия Реда съобщава в Туитър:

И една нова публикация в The Guardian, според която измененията на правната рамка създават риск за свободата на изразяване и за свободата на достъпа до информация.

 

Japan Seeks to Outmaneuver Constitution With Piracy Blocking Proposals

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/japan-seeks-to-outmaneuver-constitution-with-piracy-blocking-proposals-180406/

Speaking at a news conference last month, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the Japanese government is considering measures to prohibit access to pirate sites, initially to protect the country’s manga and anime industries.

“The damage is getting worse. We are considering the possibilities of all measures including site blocking,” he said.

But Japan has a problem.

The country has no specific legislation that allows for site-blocking of any kind, let alone on copyright infringement grounds. In fact, the constitution expressly supports freedom of speech and expressly forbids censorship.

“Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed,” Article 21 reads.

“No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated,” the constitution adds.

Nevertheless, the government appears determined to do something about the piracy threat. As detailed last month, that looks like manifesting itself in a site-blocking regime. But how will this be achieved?

Mainichi reports that the government will argue there are grounds for “averting present danger”, a phrase that’s detailed in Article 37 of Japan’s Penal Code.

“An act unavoidably performed to avert a present danger to the life, body, liberty
or property of oneself or any other person is not punishable only when the harm
produced by such act does not exceed the harm to be averted,” the Article (pdf) begins.

It’s fairly clear that this branch of Japanese law was never designed for use against pirate sites. Furthermore, there is also a clause noting that where an act (in this case blocking) causes excessive harm it may lead “to the punishment being reduced or may exculpate the offender in light of the circumstances.”

How, when, or if that ever comes into play will remain to be seen but in common with most legal processes against pirate site operators elsewhere, few turn up to argue in their defense. A contested process is therefore unlikely.

It appears that rather than forcing Internet providers into compliance, the government will ask for their “understanding” on the basis that damage is being done to the anime and manga industries. ISPs reportedly already cooperate to censor child abuse sites so it’s hoped a similar agreement can be reached on piracy.

Initially, the blocking requests will relate to just three as-yet-unnamed platforms, one local and two based outside the country. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg and if ISPs agree to block this trio, more demands are sure to follow.

Meanwhile, the government is also working towards tightening up the law to deal with an estimated 200 local sites that link, but do not host pirated content. Under current legislation, linking isn’t considered illegal, which is a major problem given the manner in which most file-sharing and streaming is carried out these days.

However, there are also concerns that any amendments to tackle linking could fall foul of the constitutional right to freedom of expression. It’s a problem that has been tackled elsewhere, notably in Europe, but in most cases the latter has been trumped by the former. In any event, the government will need to tread carefully.

The proposals are expected to be formally approved at a Cabinet meeting on crime prevention policy later this month, Mainichi reports.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Австрия: трудни времена за обществените медии

Post Syndicated from nellyo original https://nellyo.wordpress.com/2018/03/23/orf-2/

Новото правителство на Австрия предприема стъпки за засилване на позициите си в медиите.

Обществената телевизия с най-голямата аудитория в Австрия – до 4 милиона зрители при население 8,7 милиона души – се финансира главно чрез данък, който правителството иска да отмени. Различни министри правят изявления, че не одобряват модела на  финансиране на  ORF. Заместник-канцлерът е най-директен, като нарича ORF  място, където лъжите стават новини. Понятия като фалшиви новини и lügenpresse (лъжепреса) се използват за критичните публикации  по подобие на употребата на термините от управляващите в САЩ.

Представители на ORF  оценяват атаките като част от опитите  на правителството да получи по-голямо политическо влияние чрез медийния сектор. В същото време медийният министър Блумел няколко пъти обявява публично, че правителството възнамерява да укрепи частните радио- и телевизионни медии.

По-широка картина на тревожните тенденции в Австрия – от www.indexoncensorship.org.

#CensorshipMachine: отново за чл.13 от проекта за директива за авторското право

Post Syndicated from nellyo original https://nellyo.wordpress.com/2018/03/10/copyright_draft_13/

 

В ход е ревизията на правната рамка на авторското право в ЕС.

Един от спорните текстове е на чл.13 – според вносителя

Член 13 въвежда задължение за доставчиците на услуги на информационното общество, които съхраняват големи обеми произведения и други обекти, качени от техните ползватели, и осигуряват достъп до тях, да прилагат подходящи и пропорционални мерки за гарантиране на действието на споразуменията, сключени с носителите на права, и да не допускат в техните услуги да се предлага съдържание, определено от носителите на права в сътрудничество с доставчиците на услуги.

Разпоредбата е тревожна. Върви се към изискване към сътрудничество на посредниците и оттам – към приватизирано правоприлагане. Доставчиците да не допускат нарушения – това означава да предотвратяват публикуване от трети лица – означава преценка от частни лица  – и означава още контрол на входа.

Българското председателство тази седмица е предложило редакция на спорната разпоредба.

Оценката на организацията за цифрови права EDRi:

Новият текст на председателството следва същия път към машината за цензура като предишните текстове. Доставчиците на онлайн услуги биха били отговорни за неправомерно “съобщаване или предоставяне на разположение на обществеността”, когато те не “предотвратяват наличието” на определено съдържание, което технически води към задължението за инсталиране на филтри.  За член 13 можем да кажем накратко –  “филтрирай или ще бъдеш филтриран”.

А за филтрите е говорено толкова много, че няма нужда да се повтаря.

Има подписки за заличаване на чл.13, призовават се членовете на ЕП да не подкрепят машината за цензура. Но подходът не е само в тази директива, той е и в Препоръката за съдържанието онлайн, ще видим как ще се развие и обсъждането на ревизията на медийната директива по отношение на платформите и, разбира се, мерките срещу дезинформацията и фалшивите новини.

Това, което наричат саморегулиране, е на път да се окаже приватизирано прилагане на ограничения  – особено от големите компании. Фейбук наема.

#CensorshipMachine

Post Syndicated from nellyo original https://nellyo.wordpress.com/2018/03/03/illegal_/

 

На 1 март 2018 Европейската комисия публикува Препоръка  относно мерките за ефективно справяне с незаконното онлайн съдържание, която представя идеите на Комисията за това как да се ускори премахването на незаконно съдържание. Отделно от това, подобни идеи са развити в предложенията за ревизия на медийното и авторското право, както и в дискусиите за борба с дезинформацията и фалшивите новини.

Аз също говорих за това на конференцията за фалшивите новини, организирана от АЕЖ през ноември 2017: ЕК препоръчва  на частни търговски дружества да се даде възможност да заличават съдържание, качено от граждани. Сега Европейската комисия продължава идеите в тази посока.

В правна  система, основана на върховенство на правото, съдът е този, който трябва да се произнася при намеса в свободата на изразяване, поне досега това беше неоспорвано положение. ЕК насърчава тенденцията е да се овластят доставчици да правят такава преценка – точно както идеята за трите удара преди време.

Реакцията на European Digital Rights (EDRi):

Европейските политици работят за най-големия интернет филтър, който някога сме виждали. Това може да звучи драматично, но наистина не е преувеличено. Ако предложението бъде прието, уеб сайтове като Soundcloud, eBay, Facebook и Flickr ще бъдат принудени да филтрират всичко, което искате да качите. Алгоритъм ще  определя кое от съдържанието, което качвате, ще се вижда от останалия свят и кое – няма.

Този интернет филтър е предвиден в предложенията за нова европейска нормативна уредба. Интернет филтрите не могат и не трябва да се използват за регулиране на авторското право. Те не работят. Но има много по-голям проблем: след като бъде инсталиран, интернет филтърът може и ще бъде използван за безброй други цели. Обзалагаме се, че политиците радостно очакват интернет филтъра, за да го използват в биткаите си  с фалшиви новини, тероризъм или нежелани политически мнения.

EDRi подчертава, че има много причини да сте срещу тези предложения – ето три:

  • Това е атака срещу вашата свобода на изразяване.
  • Филтри като тези  правят много грешки.
  • Платформите ще  бъдат насърчени да избягват риска  – за сметка на вашата свобода.

Russia VPN Blocking Law Failing? No Provider Told To Block Any Site

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-vpn-blocking-law-failing-no-provider-told-to-block-any-site-180224/

Continuing Russia’s continued pressure on the restriction of banned websites for copyright infringement and other offenses, President Vladimir Putin signed a brand new bill into law July 2017.

The legislation aimed to prevent citizens from circumventing ISP blockades with the use of services such as VPNs, proxies, Tor, and other anonymizing services. The theory was that if VPNs were found to be facilitating access to banned sites, they too would find themselves on Russia’s national Internet blacklist.

The list is maintained by local telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor and currently contains many tens of thousands of restricted domains. In respect of VPNs, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs is tasked with monitoring ‘unblocking’ offenses, which they are then expected to refer to the telecoms watchdog for action.

The legislation caused significant uproar both locally and overseas and was widely predicted to signal a whole new level of censorship in Russia. However, things haven’t played out that way since, far from it. Since being introduced November 1, 2017, not a single VPN has been cautioned over its activities, much less advised to block or cease and desist.

The revelation comes via Russian news outlet RBC, which received an official confirmation from Rozcomnadzor itself that no VPN or anonymization service had been asked to take action to prevent access to blocked sites. Given the attention to detail when passing the law, the reasons seem extraordinary.

While Rozcomnadzor is empowered to put VPN providers on the blacklist, it must first be instructed to do so by the FSB, after that organization has carried out an investigation. Once the FSB gives the go-ahead, Rozcomnadzor can then order the provider to connect itself to the federal state information system, known locally as FGIS.

FGIS is the system that contains the details of nationally blocked sites and if a VPN provider does not interface with it within 30 days of being ordered to do so, it too will be added to the blocklist by Rozcomnadzor. Trouble is, Rozcomnadzor hasn’t received any requests to contact VPNs from higher up the chain, so they can’t do anything.

“As of today, there have been no requests from the members of the RDD [operational and investigative activities] and state security regarding anonymizers and VPN services,” a Roskomnadzor spokesperson said.

However, the problems don’t end there. RBC quotes Karen Ghazaryan, an analyst at the Russian Electronic Communications Association (RAEC), who says that even if it had received instructions, Rozcomnadzor wouldn’t be able to block the VPN services in question for both technical and legal reasons.

“Roskomnadzor does not have leverage over most VPN services, and they can not block them for failing to comply with the law, because Roskomnadzor does not have ready technical solutions for this, and the law does not yet have relevant by-laws,” the expert said.

“Copying the Chinese model of fighting VPNs in Russia will not be possible because of its high cost and the radically different topology of the Russian segment of the Internet,” Ghazaryan adds.

This apparent inability to act is surprising, not least since millions of Russian Internet users are now using VPNs, anonymizers, and similar services on a regular basis. Ghazaryan puts the figure as high as 25% of all Russian Internet users.

However, there is also a third element to Russia’s VPN dilemma – how to differentiate between VPNs used by the public and those used in a commercial environment. China is trying to solve this problem by forcing VPN providers to register and align themselves with the state. Russia hasn’t tried that, yet.

“The [blocking] law says that it does not apply to corporate VPN networks, but there is no way to distinguish them from services used for personal needs,” concludes Sarkis Darbinian from the anti-censorship project, Roskomvoboda.

This week, Russia’s Ministry of Culture unveiled yet more new proposals for dealing with copyright infringement via a bill that would allow websites to be blocked without a court order. It’s envisioned that if pirate material is found on a site and its operator either fails to respond to a complaint or leaves the content online for more than 24 hours, ISPs will be told to block the entire site.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

China to Start Blocking Unauthorized VPN Providers This April

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/china-to-start-blocking-unauthorized-vpn-providers-this-april-180203/

Back in January 2017, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced a 14-month campaign to crack down on ‘unauthorized’ Internet platforms.

China said that Internet technologies and services had been expanding in a “disorderly” fashion, so regulation was required. No surprise then that the campaign targeted censorship-busting VPN services, which are used by citizens and corporations to traverse the country’s Great Firewall.

Heralding a “nationwide Internet network access services clean-up”, China warned that anyone operating such a service would require a government telecommunications business license. It’s now been more than a year since that announcement and much has happened in the interim.

In July 2017, Apple removed 674 VPN apps from its App Store and in September, a local man was jailed for nine months for selling VPN software. In December, another man was jailed for five-and-a-half years for selling a VPN service without an appropriate license from the government.

This week the government provided an update on the crackdown, telling the media that it will begin forcing local and foreign companies and individuals to use only government-approved systems to access the wider Internet.

Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) chief engineer Zhang Feng reiterated earlier comments that VPN operators must be properly licensed by the government, adding that unlicensed VPNs will be subjected to new rules which come into force on March 31. The government plans to block unauthorized VPN providers, official media reported.

“We want to regulate VPNs which unlawfully conduct cross-border operational activities,” Zhang told reporters.

“Any foreign companies that want to set up a cross-border operation for private use will need to set up a dedicated line for that purpose,” he said.

“They will be able to lease such a line or network legally from the telecommunications import and export bureau. This shouldn’t affect their normal operations much at all.”

Radio Free Asia reports that state-run telecoms companies including China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, which are approved providers, have all been ordered to prevent their 1.3 billion subscribers from accessing blocked content with VPNs.

“The campaign aims to regulate the market environment and keep it fair and healthy,” Zhang added. “[As for] VPNs which unlawfully conduct cross-border operational activities, we want to regulate this.”

So, it appears that VPN providers are still allowed in China, so long as they’re officially licensed and approved by the government. However, in order to get that licensing they need to comply with government regulations, which means that people cannot use them to access content restricted by the Great Firewall.

All that being said, Zhang is reported as saying that people shouldn’t be concerned that their data is insecure as a result – neither providers nor the government are able to access content sent over a state-approved VPN service, he claimed.

“The rights for using normal intentional telecommunications services is strictly protected,” said Zhang, adding that regulation means that communications are “secure”.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

Huge Rightsholder Coalition Calls on New EU Presidency to Remove Safe Harbors

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/huge-rightsholder-coalition-calls-on-new-eu-presidency-to-remove-safe-harbors-180131/

While piracy of all kinds is often viewed as a threat to the creative industries, a new type of unauthorized content distribution has been gaining prominence over the past few years.

Sites like YouTube, that allow their users to upload all kinds of material – some of it infringing – are now seen as undermining a broad range of industries that rely on both video and audio to generate revenue.

The cries against such User Uploaded Content (UUC) sites are often led by the music industry, which complains that the safe harbor provisions of copyright law are being abused while UUC sites generate review from infringing content. In tandem, while that free content is made available, UUC sites have little or no incentive to pay for official content licenses, and certainly not at a rate considered fair by the industry.

This mismatch, between the price that content industries would like to achieve for licenses and what they actually achieve, is now known as the ‘Value Gap’.

Today, in advance of an EU meeting on the draft Copyright Directive, a huge coalition of rightsholder groups is calling on the new EU Presidency not to pass up an “unmissable opportunity” to find a solution to their problems.

In a letter addressed to the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which Bulgaria officially took over January 1, 2018, an army of rightsholders lay out their demands.

“We represent musical, audio-visual, literary, visual authors; performers; book, press, musical, scientific, technical and medical publishers; recorded music, film and TV producers; football leagues; broadcasters; distributors and photo agencies. These are at the very heart of Europe’s creative sector,” the groups write.

“We have formed an alliance to campaign for a solution to a major problem which is holding back our sector and jeopardizing future sustainability – the Transfer of Value, otherwise known as the Value Gap.

“User uploaded content services have become vast distributors of our creative works e.g. film, music, photos, broadcasts, text and sport content – all while refusing to negotiate fair or any copyright licences with us as right holders.”

Value Gap Coalition

Featuring groups representing many thousands of rightsholders, the coalition is the broadest yet to call for action against the ‘Value Gap’. Or, to put it another way, to demand a change in the law to prevent sites like YouTube, Facebook and other hosting platforms from “hiding” behind provisions designed to protect them from the infringing activities of others.

“This problem is caused by a lack of clarity surrounding the application of copyright to certain online services and the abuse of European copyright ‘safe harbor’ rules in the e-Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) by those services,” the coalition writes.

Referencing the EU Copyright Directive proposal tabled by the European Commission in September 2016, the coalition says that UUC services communicating content to the public should be compelled to obtain licenses for that content. If they play an “active role” through promotion or optimization of content, UUC platforms should be denied ‘safe harbors’ under copyright law, they argue.

Noting that there is “no solution” to the problem without the above fixes, the coalition cites last year’s ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union which found that The Pirate Bay knowingly provide users with a platform to share copyright-infringing links.

“It is important to recall that the underlying policy objective of this legislation is to address the current unfairness in the online market due to the misapplication of copyright liability rules by UUC services. We would therefore like to stress that the focus should remain on finding effective solutions to tackle this issue.

“As an alliance, we look forward to working with your Presidency to achieve an effective solution to the Value Gap problem for the benefit of Europe,” the coalition concludes.

The letter, addressed to Prime Minister Borissov, Minister Pavlova and Minister Banov, arrives in the wake of an alert sounded by several Members of the European Parliament.

Earlier this month they warned that the EU’s proposed mandatory upload filters – which could see UUC sites pre-screen user-uploaded content for infringement – amount to “censorship machines” that will do more harm than good.

The full letter can be found here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

Massive Site-Blocking Measures Countered By 100K Browser Addon Users

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/massive-site-blocking-measures-countered-by-100k-browser-addon-users-171231/

FCT tyIn July 2015, Portugal’s Ministry of Culture announced the signing of a memorandum between its own General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC), the Portuguese Association of Telecommunication Operators (APRITEL), various rightsholder groups, the body responsible for administering Portugal’s .PT domain, and representatives from the advertising industry.

The memorandum laid out a new mechanism for blocking so-called ‘pirate’ sites. In common with similar frameworks elsewhere, the process can be triggered by a complaint from a rightsholder association. Local anti-piracy group MAPINET then collates evidence that a site is engaged in the unlawful distribution of copyright works and has failed to cease its activities.

The system was quickly utilized by rightsholders seeking to block access to their content. Within six months, 330 sites had been blocked by ISPs, but that was only the beginning. In the months and years that followed, hundreds more sites were rendered inaccessible but in common with similar programs elsewhere, no official list of blocked sites was made available. People are keeping watch, however.

SitesBloqueados (Blocked Sites) is a web portal run by Revolução dos Bytes (Bytes’ Revolution), a group of like-minded anti-censorship activists in Portugal. Created a few months after blocking began in the region, their comprehensive database now contains almost 1,400 domains, the majority of which have been blocked on copyright grounds.

“SitesBloqueados was mainly created because, although the Memorandum of Understanding contained certain requirements to make a site eligible to be blocked – such as 500 items [or links] to copyright content or one third of the site containing copyrighted material – there was no official way to validate that data and make sure that these ‘rules’ are being respected,” team member Henrique Mouta informs TF.

The manner in which the list is maintained is quite unique. As mentioned earlier, there are no official sources listing blocked domains so the people behind SitesBloqueados had to get creative. Alongside this project they also run Ahoy!, a Chrome and Firefox extension that allows users to circumvent censorship in Portugal and it’s through that tool they gather information.

“Ahoy! basically bypasses any traffic to a blocked site through our own proxies, allowing the users to navigate in a free, uncensored internet,” Henrique explains.

As this extension works on a whitelist basis, we had to create a mechanism to automatically detect and whitelist sites that have been blocked, so if a user accesses a blocked site that is not on our list yet, we get a notification so we can review the site and add it to the list. That is the list that is also powering SitesBloqueados.pt.”

When the voluntary agreement was first announced, local ISPs came under intense criticism for agreeing to work with copyright holders without need for a court process. However, Henrique says they are actually in a precarious position.

“We usually see the ISPs as the bad guys, blocking sites, throttling our internet and, more recently, going against the Internet Neutrality. But, in this particular case, all the major ISPs are forced to block any sites that have been requested in 15 days, or they might pay fines for every single day after the deadline.

“MAPiNET (MOVIMENTO CÍVICOANTI PIRATARIA NA INTERNET) is the organization, alongside with IGAC (Inspecção Geral Das Actividades Culturais), that compiles the lists of sites and sends them to the ISP. It’s usually two lists per month. Of course, I’m not excusing the ISPs, as they should stand up against censorship. But we all know that’s asking too much of them,” Henrique adds.

Interestingly, the first site blockade in Portugal wasn’t actioned on copyright grounds. It was, in fact, targeted at Uber.com.

“This happened in June 2015, after a court order to suspend all Uber activity in Portugal. This opened a huge precedent, with all these anti-piracy organizations seeing how easy is to block a site, technically speaking.

“So, at the end of August of that same year, the [anti-piracy] Memorandum was signed by all the parties and, since then, both MAPiNET and IGAC have the power to request any site block, without any court order, without any legal order,” Henrique notes.

This lit a fire under the team and two and half years later, Ahoy! is now being used by 100k people to unblock almost 1,400 sites, while feeding back information on newly blocked domains. These are then added to the blocklist database and considered for unblocking methods via the addon.

Currently, around 50 new domains are blocked every month in Portugal and Henrique and the team are determined to document every one of them. They believe that by keeping an eye on things publicly, it lets the anti-piracy groups know they are being watched and cannot act with impunity. Around 90% of all blocked domains are restricted on copyright grounds but some also fall foul of new gambling laws that forbid unlicensed sites.

From the beginning, the big question has surrounded potential abuse. So, given the lack of a court process, have any players attempted to game the system?

“So far, we haven’t seen any signs of intentional abuse. There have been a few problems with sites being wrongly blocked. The most popular case is Carbon Games site that was blocked nearly two years ago, and it was mistaken for a different site, a Gambling site, named Carbon Gaming,” Henrique says.

“A few months later, we detected another case. A Spanish journalist had a website where he was posting videoclips of the latest releases. All of these releases were originally on YouTube, uploaded by the respective owners, however that was not enough to keep the site alive.”

Under pressure from Revolução dos Bytes this block was reversed but it’s not the only instance of errors. Non-existent sites have been blocked as have sites publishing headlines and linking to the respective online newspapers.

With blocking continuing at a steady pace, dozens of new domains are restricted every month. But Henrique and the team believe it won’t achieve anything positive and only serves to harm the Internet and democracy.

“Blocking sites to prevent piracy is the same as being on a sinking submarine, trying to patch every leaking hull hole with duct tape. If they want to fight piracy, they should try to understand, in the first place, why it happens and what they can do to change it.

“It’s well known that having cheap and quality services like Netflix and Spotify helped Internet piracy levels drop to record lows, DRM issues aside, of course. And the worst of it is the timing: these organizations see the decreasing levels of piracy as a signal that their stupid censorship is actually working. I’m really afraid that this is now an unstoppable snowball. The Internet in Portugal has seen much better days,” Henrique concludes.

But while he’s pessimistic over current developments, it appears that the Ahoy! movement is only set to grow. The team say they want to bring the browser-based system to other countries that are suffering from similar blockades and that suggestions from the public are welcome.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

VPN Provider Jailed For Five Years After Helping Thousands Breach China’s Firewall

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/vpn-provider-jailed-for-five-years-after-helping-thousands-breach-chinas-firewall-171222/

The Chinese government’s grip on power is matched by its determination to control access to information. To that end, it seeks to control what people in China can see on the Internet, thereby limiting the effect of outside influences on society.

The government tries to reach these goals by use of the so-called Great Firewall, a complex system that grants access to some foreign resources while denying access to others. However, technologically advanced citizens are able to bypass this state censorship by using circumvention techniques including Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

While large numbers of people use such services, in January 2017 the government gave its clearest indication yet that it would begin to crack down on people offering Great Firewall-evading tools.

Operating such a service without a corresponding telecommunications business license constitutes an offense, the government said. Now we have a taste of how serious the government is on this matter.

According to an announcement from China’s Procuratorate Daily, Wu Xiangyang, a resident of the Guangxi autonomous region, has just been jailed for five-and-a-half years and fined 500,000 yuan ($75,920) for building and selling access to VPNs without an appropriate license.

It’s alleged that between 2013 and June 2017, Wu Xiangyang sold VPN server access to the public via his own website, FangouVPN / Where Dog VPN, and Taobao, a Chinese online shopping site similar to eBay and Amazon.

The member accounts provided by the man allowed customers to browse foreign websites, without being trapped behind China’s Great Firewall. He also sold custom hardware routers that came read-configured to use the VPN service, granting access to the wider Internet, contrary to the wishes of Chinese authorities.

Prosecutors say that the illegal VPN business had revenues of 792,638 yuan (US$120,377) and profits of around 500,000 yuan ($75,935). SCMP reports that the company previously boasted on Twitter at having 8,000 foreigners and 5,000 businesses using its services to browse blocked websites.

This is at least the second big sentence handed down to a Chinese citizen for providing access to VPNs. Back in September, it was revealed that Deng Jiewei, a 26-year-old from the city of Dongguan in the Guangdong province, had been jailed for nine months after offering a similar service to the public for around a year.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

Apple CEO is Optimistic VPN Apps Will Return to China App Store

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/apple-ceo-is-optimistic-vpn-apps-will-return-to-china-app-store-171206/

As part of an emerging crackdown on tools and systems with the ability to bypass China’s ‘Great Firewall’, during the summer Chinese government pressure began to affect Apple.

During the final days of July, Apple was forced to remove many of the most-used VPN applications from its Chinese App Store. In a short email from the company, VPN providers and software developers were told that VPN applications are considered illegal in China.

“We are writing to notify you that your application will be removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines,” Apple informed the affected VPNs.

While the position on the ground doesn’t appear to have changed in the interim, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook today expressed optimism that the VPN apps would eventually be restored to their former positions on China’s version of the App Store.

“My hope over time is that some of the things, the couple of things that’s been pulled, come back,” Cook said. “I have great hope on that and great optimism on that.”

According to Reuters, Cook said that he always tries to find ways to work together to settle differences and if he gets criticized for that “so be it.”

Speaking at the Fortune Forum in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, Cook said that he believes strongly in freedoms. But back home in the US, Apple has been strongly criticized for not doing enough to uphold freedom of speech and communication in China.

Back in October, two US senators wrote to Cook asking why the company had removed the VPN apps from the company’s store in China.

“VPNs allow users to access the uncensored Internet in China and other countries that restrict Internet freedom. If these reports are true, we are concerned that Apple may be enabling the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance of the Internet,” senators Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy wrote.

“While Apple’s many contributions to the global exchange of information are admirable, removing VPN apps that allow individuals in China to evade the Great Firewall and access the Internet privately does not enable people in China to ‘speak up’.”

They were comments Senator Leahy underlined again yesterday.

“American tech companies have become leading champions of free expression. But that commitment should not end at our borders,” Leahy told CNBC.

“Global leaders in innovation, like Apple, have both an opportunity and a moral obligation to promote free expression and other basic human rights in countries that routinely deny these rights.”

Whether the optimism expressed by Cook today is based on discussions with the Chinese government is unknown. However, it seems unlikely that authorities would be willing to significantly compromise on their dedication to maintaining the Great Firewall, which not only controls access to locally controversial content but also seeks to boost the success of Chinese companies.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons