Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/eff-criticizes-pipcus-new-domain-name-policing-effort-170406/
The City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is a specialist unit dedicated to the reduction of all IP-related crime, including actions against pirate sites and their operators, sellers of Kodi-type devices, and those who counterfeit luxury goods.
While at times the unit is able to take down infrastructure, it appears to have a broader strategy of disruption, making life difficult for those committing infringement in the hope that they give up or move on.
In recent years, PIPCU has been putting a lot of effort into having domains taken down or suspended. Sometimes it achieves this after applying pressure to pirate site operators, for example, but the majority of takedowns are actioned via voluntary agreements with industry players.
This week, PIPCU announced that it will begin collaborating with the International Anti Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) to take down websites in association with the IACC’s ‘RogueBlock‘ program.
RogueBlock was launched in January 2012 following rights-holder negotiations with the payment industry to develop a strategy for dealing with so-called ‘rogue’ websites. It began by focusing on sites selling counterfeits but in 2015 was expanded to deal with cyberlocker-type sites.
With MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, MoneyGram, American Express, Discover, PULSE, Diners Club and Western Union as members, the program focuses on disrupting revenue streams, such as payments for fake items or subscriptions to file-hosting sites that fail to comply with the requirements of the DMCA.
Since the program began, it claims to have terminated more than 5,300 accounts connected to a claimed 200,000 websites. Now it has a new ally in PIPCU, which will augment the program with its own Operation Ashiko, an initiative aimed at seizing allegedly infringing website domains.
“Since its inception Operation Ashiko has suspended in excess of 20,000 websites by working with our industry partners,” PIPCU says.
“This creates a safer environment for consumers to purchase genuine goods and disrupts the funding of criminals committing intellectual property crime.”
This partnership is an extension of similar industry and voluntary agreements currently gathering momentum in both Europe and the United States. Freed from the shackles of expensive and formal legal action, industry players and police now work together in order to disrupt piracy in all its forms, hitting website infrastructure and revenue collection mechanisms.
While supporters in the creative industries see such programs as nimble and effective in the fight against IP crime, critics such as the EFF are concerned by the lack of transparency and accountability.
“If a website is wrongly listed by the IACC in its RogueBlock program, thereby becoming a target for blocking by the City of London Police and the payment processors, there is no readily accessible pathway to have its inclusion reviewed and, if necessary, reversed,” the EFF says.
“This opens up much scope for websites to be wrongly listed for anti-competitive or political reasons, or simply by mistake.”
The EFF says that it would prefer that action against sites was backed up by enforcement through legal channels. However, as the group points out, that could prove complex due to the multi-jurisdictional nature of the Internet.
“The latest expansion of the program to facilitate the takedown of domains threatens to compound these problems, particularly if the City of London Police apply it against websites that are not globally infringing, or if private domain registries or registrars join the program and begin to act on claims of infringement directly,” it concludes.
While PIPCU will certainly bring something to the table, domain suspensions in the UK don’t always go smoothly. Registrars have previously declined to work with the unit to suspend torrent site domains and in 2014 it was revealed that out of 70 similar requests, just five were granted.