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The Art of Unblocking Websites Without Committing Crimes | TorrentFreak.

Last month UK police took down several torrent site proxies and arrested their owner. Now a UK developer has created a new & free service that not only silently unblocks any website without falling foul of the law, but one that will eventually become available to all under a GPL 3.0 license.

networkThe blocking of sites such as The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and Torrentz in the UK led to users discovering new ways to circumvent ISP-imposed censorship. There are plenty of solutions, from TOR and VPNs, to services with a stated aim of unblocking ‘pirate’ sites deemed illegal by UK courts.

Last month, however, dozens of these went offline when the operator of Immunicity and other related proxy services was arrested by City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit. He now faces several charges including breaches of the Serious Crime Act 2007, Possession of Articles for Use in Fraud, Making or Supplying Articles for use in Frauds and money laundering.

While it’s generally accepted that running a site like The Pirate Bay is likely to attract police attention, merely unblocking a domain was not thought to carry any such risk. After all, visitors to torrent sites are just that, it’s only later on that they make a decision to infringe or not.

In our earlier article we discussed some of the possible reasons why the police might view “pirate” proxies to be illegal. However, there are very good arguments that general purpose proxies, even ones that are expressly setup to bypass filtering (and are able to unblock sites such as Pirate Bay), remain on a decent legal footing.

One such site is being operated by Gareth, a developer and networking guru who grew so tired of creeping Internet censorship he began lobbying UK MPs on the topic, later moving on to assist with the creation of the Open Rights Group’s Blocked.org.uk.

After campaigning and documenting Internet censorship issues for some time, Gareth first heard of last month’s proxy arrest during a visit to the United States.

“I was at DefCon in Las Vegas when the news of the Immunicity arrest reached me and I realized that for all my volunteer work, my open source applications, operation of Tor relays, donations and letters to MPs to highlight/combat the issues with Internet censorship, it was not enough,” the developer told TorrentFreak.

“I felt that this issue has moved from a political / technical issue to one about personal liberty and Internet freedom. e.g. first they came for the ‘pirate proxies’, then the Tor operators, then the ISPs that don’t censor their customers. The slippery slope is becoming a scary precipice.”

Since his return to the UK, Gareth has been busy creating his own independent anti-censorship tool. He’s researched in detail what happened to Immunicity, taken legal advice, and is now offering what he hopes is an entirely legal solution to website filtering and subsequent over-blocking (1)(2).

“Unlike Immunicity et al I’m not specifically building a ‘Pirate Proxy’. Granted people might use this proxy to navigate to torrent websites but were I to sell a laptop on eBay that same person may use it for the same reasons so I see no difference,” he explains.

“In fact Section 44, subsection 2 of the Serious Crimes Act 2007 even states [that an individual] is not to be taken to have intended to encourage or assist the commission of an offense merely because such encouragement or assistance was a foreseeable consequence of his act.”

The result of Gareth’s labor is the anti-censorship service Routing Packets is Not a Crime (RPINAC). People who used Immunicity in the past should feel at home, since RPINAC also utilizes the ability of popular browsers to use Proxy Auto-Config (PAC) files.

In the space of a couple of minutes and with no specialist knowledge, users can easily create their own PAC files covering any blocked site they like. Once configured, their browser will silently unblock them.

Furthermore, each PAC file has its own dedicated URL on RPINAC’s servers which users can revisit in order to add additional URLs for unblocking. PAC ‘unblock’ files can also be shared among like-minded people.

“When someone creates a PAC file they are redirected to a /view/ endpoint e.g. https://routingpacketsisnotacrime.uk/view/b718ce9b276bc2f10af90fe1d5b33c0d. This URL is not ephemeral, you can email it, tweet it (there is a tweet button on the left hand side of the site) etc and it will provide the recipient with the exact same view.

“It’ll show which URLs are specified to be proxied, which have been detected as blocked (using the https://blocked.org.uk database) and if the author passed along the password (assuming the PAC was password protected) they can add or remove URLs too,” Gareth explains.

“Each view page also has a comments section, this could allow for a small collection of individuals to co-ordinate with a smaller subset of password possessing moderators to create a crowd sourced PAC file in an autonomous fashion. There is also a ‘Clone’ button allowing anybody to create their own copy of the PAC file with their own name, description and password if the PAC file they’ve received isn’t quite what they need.”

This user-generated element of the process is important. While dedicated ‘pirate’ proxy sites specifically unblock sites already deemed illegal by the UK courts (and can be deemed to be facilitating their ‘crimes’), RPINAC leaves the decision of which sites to unblock completely down to the user. And since no High Court injunction forbids any user from accessing a blocked domain, both service and user remain on the right side of the law.

In terms of use, RPINAC is unobtrusive, has no popups, promotions or advertising, and will not ask for payment or donations, a further important legal point.

“To avoid any accusations of fraud and to avoid any tax implications RPINAC will never ask for donations,” the dev explains. “The current platform is pre-paid for at least a year, the domain for 10. At a bare minimum PAC file serving and education for creating local proxies will continue indefinitely.”

Finally, Gareth notes that without free and open source software his anti-censorship platform wouldn’t have been possible. So, in return, he has plans to release the source code for the project under the GPL 3.0 license.

RoutingPacketsIsNotACrime can be found here and is compatible with Firefox, Chrome, Safari and IE. Additional information can be sourced here.

Austrian Tor Exit Node Operator Found Guilty As An Accomplice Because Someone Used His Node To Commit A crime

from the bad,-bad-news dept

Three years ago we wrote about how Austrian police had seized computers from someone running a Tor exit node. This kind of thing happens from time to time, but it appears that folks in Austria have taken it up a notch by… effectively now making it illegal to run a Tor exit node. According to the report, which was confirmed by the accused, the court found that running the node violated §12 of the Austrian penal code, which effectively says:

Not only the immediate perpetrator commits a criminal action, but also anyone who appoints someone to carry it out, or anyone who otherwise contributes to the completion of said criminal action.

In other words, it’s a form of accomplice liability for criminality. It’s pretty standard to name criminal accomplices liable for “aiding and abetting” the activities of others, but it’s a massive and incredibly dangerous stretch to argue that merely running a Tor exit node makes you an accomplice that “contributes to the completion” of a crime. Under this sort of thinking, Volkswagen would be liable if someone drove a VW as the getaway car in a bank robbery. It’s a very, very broad interpretation of accomplice liability, in a situation where it clearly does not make sense.

via Austrian Tor Exit Node Operator Found Guilty As An Accomplice Because Someone Used His Node To Commit A crime | Techdirt.

netzpolitik.org: Are you breaking any laws?

Jotunbane: Several :)

netzpolitik.org: Do you care? Why (not)?

Jotunbane: Sure I care. But what can I do? The laws are wrong on several different levels (the copyright monopoly have been extended 16 times in my lifetime alone, and will continue to be extended every time Mickey Mouse is getting close to the public domain). There will always be consequences when you decide to break the law and the risk of punishment is clearly part of the equation. Under US law I could get fined $150.000 for each infringement, but this is not a question of money, it’s a question of doing the right thing. Sharing is caring, so of course I care.

 

Interviews with E-Book-Pirates: “The book publishing industry is repeating the same mistakes of the music industry”.

 

The report noted that some within MIT believe “there has been a change in the institutional climate over recent years, where decisions have become driven more by a concern for minimizing risk than by strong affirmation of MIT values.”

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act has been widely condemned as extreme in both its sweeping scope and its grave punishments. Sentencing guidelines suggest Swartz faced up to seven years in prison.

To his supporters, MIT bears some responsibility for that fact. MIT officials privately told the prosecutor that the university had no interest in jail time, but refused to oppose his prosecution publicly or privately, despite repeated entreaties from Swartz’s father, his lawyers, and a couple of faculty members, who argued MIT had the institutional heft to influence the US attorney’s office.

via Aaron Swartz and MIT: The inside story – Metro – The Boston Globe.

What is Piracy? Jean-Philippe Vergne at TEDxWesternU – YouTube.

What is Piracy? Jean-Philippe Vergne at TEDxWesternU – YouTube.

Taunts aside, Tankafetast’s operators appear to be trying to raise the profile of the site. They have launched a clothing range, consisting mainly of t-shirts carrying a range of pro-filesharing slogans such as Keep Calm and Download and Support Your Local Uploader, plus a few with defiant messages on Tankafetast’s return.In addition, on Saturday the site’s operators announced that in celebration of the site’s return they would be hiring three cinemas in Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm and giving away tickets to fans of the site. The first viewing has been announced as taking place this Thursday for the premiere of the new Bond movie, Skyfall.What is interesting to observe here is that when it comes to file-sharing the Swedes are very defiant indeed, even in the face of adversaries such as the government and police. Whether the site will be able to back up its defiance with long-term uptime remains to be seen, but even that seems to be more likely than their aim this week of giving away at least hundred of their cinema tickets to girls.

via Raided PRQ Torrent Site is Back and Hiring Cinemas To Celebrate | TorrentFreak.Taunts aside, Tankafetast’s operators appear to be trying to raise the profile of the site. They have launched a clothing range, consisting mainly of t-shirts carrying a range of pro-filesharing slogans such as Keep Calm and Download and Support Your Local Uploader, plus a few with defiant messages on Tankafetast’s return.In addition, on Saturday the site’s operators announced that in celebration of the site’s return they would be hiring three cinemas in Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm and giving away tickets to fans of the site. The first viewing has been announced as taking place this Thursday for the premiere of the new Bond movie, Skyfall.What is interesting to observe here is that when it comes to file-sharing the Swedes are very defiant indeed, even in the face of adversaries such as the government and police. Whether the site will be able to back up its defiance with long-term uptime remains to be seen, but even that seems to be more likely than their aim this week of giving away at least hundred of their cinema tickets to girls.

via Raided PRQ Torrent Site is Back and Hiring Cinemas To Celebrate | TorrentFreak.

The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus has just released its 2012 International Piracy Watch List. In addition to countries such as China, Russia and Ukraine, this year Italy and Switzerland make fresh appearances in the list. Both countries are accused of not doing enough to combat online infringement with the latter allegedly proving itself as a “magnet for rogue sites.”

via New Anti-Piracy Watchlist Zooms In On File-Sharing Tolerant Countries | TorrentFreak.The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus has just released its 2012 International Piracy Watch List. In addition to countries such as China, Russia and Ukraine, this year Italy and Switzerland make fresh appearances in the list. Both countries are accused of not doing enough to combat online infringement with the latter allegedly proving itself as a “magnet for rogue sites.”

via New Anti-Piracy Watchlist Zooms In On File-Sharing Tolerant Countries | TorrentFreak.

“IFPI has inadvertently made available its own confidential internal report, penned by none other than IFPIs chief anti-piracy officer, which details its strategy against online piracy for major recording labels across the globe. The document, 30-pages long, talks about file sharing sites, torrents, cyberlockers, phishing attacks, expectations from Internet service providers, mp3 sites and a lot more. The document is a global view representation of IFPIs problems, current and future threats, and the industrys responses to them.”A few tactics: shutting down music services, requiring file lockers filter uploads or be shut down interesting, since the DMCAs one good provision is the safe harbor, and proactive filtering could mean losing that protection, lobbying for DNS blocking legislation, pressuring ISPs into extra-legally enforcing their will, disrupting payment processing for pirate sites through blacklists, and providing “training built around real world experiences and challenges rather than focusing on theory” on copyright law to judges and legal bodies.

via Leaked IFPI Report Details Anti-Piracy Strategy – Slashdot.“IFPI has inadvertently made available its own confidential internal report, penned by none other than IFPIs chief anti-piracy officer, which details its strategy against online piracy for major recording labels across the globe. The document, 30-pages long, talks about file sharing sites, torrents, cyberlockers, phishing attacks, expectations from Internet service providers, mp3 sites and a lot more. The document is a global view representation of IFPIs problems, current and future threats, and the industrys responses to them.”A few tactics: shutting down music services, requiring file lockers filter uploads or be shut down interesting, since the DMCAs one good provision is the safe harbor, and proactive filtering could mean losing that protection, lobbying for DNS blocking legislation, pressuring ISPs into extra-legally enforcing their will, disrupting payment processing for pirate sites through blacklists, and providing “training built around real world experiences and challenges rather than focusing on theory” on copyright law to judges and legal bodies.

via Leaked IFPI Report Details Anti-Piracy Strategy – Slashdot.

Its a dynamic thats been particularly pointed for Dodd, given his efforts to move forward on legislation preventing theft of intellectual property. The Protect I.P. Act and its counterpart in the House, the Stop Online Piracy Act, had broad bipartisan backing last year when Dodd was in his first months with the movie biz and was joined by the recording industry, book publishiers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the effort.”Were in a transformative period with an explosion of technology thats going to need content,” he said.But Internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter campaigned effectively against the legislation, mobilizing users on grounds that the new rules would impede the free flow of information on the Internet.”Google chose wisely by making Hollywood the enemy,” Dodd said ruefully.He said Saturday that the industry will need to take a far more nuanced approach to promoting future antipiracy legislation.”Were going to have to be more subtle and consumer-oriented,” he added. “Were on the wrong track if we describe this as thievery.”

via Dodd touts outreach on IP, bizs humanitarian efforts – Entertainment News, Film News, Media – Variety.Its a dynamic thats been particularly pointed for Dodd, given his efforts to move forward on legislation preventing theft of intellectual property. The Protect I.P. Act and its counterpart in the House, the Stop Online Piracy Act, had broad bipartisan backing last year when Dodd was in his first months with the movie biz and was joined by the recording industry, book publishiers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the effort.”Were in a transformative period with an explosion of technology thats going to need content,” he said.But Internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter campaigned effectively against the legislation, mobilizing users on grounds that the new rules would impede the free flow of information on the Internet.”Google chose wisely by making Hollywood the enemy,” Dodd said ruefully.He said Saturday that the industry will need to take a far more nuanced approach to promoting future antipiracy legislation.”Were going to have to be more subtle and consumer-oriented,” he added. “Were on the wrong track if we describe this as thievery.”

via Dodd touts outreach on IP, bizs humanitarian efforts – Entertainment News, Film News, Media – Variety.

A nagy forgalmazók megveszik a politikusokat, hogy rendőrt uszíthassanak családokra, csak mert azok Garfield-et néznek a monitoron.

Az internet többek közt arra való, hogy kulturális tartalomhoz juthassunk, a napi hírömlenytől az elmélkedősebb anyagokon át a tudásbázisokig és tovább. Aki pedig azt állítja, hogy mindez ingyenes, és hogy a torrentezés bűn, az vagy téved, vagy hazudik. A hazugság, az tényleg bűn. Persze, a lopás is bűn, de ha valamiért fizettünk, akkor annak magunkhoz vétele nem lopás.

via Tanítsuk meg torrentezni a gyerekeket! – Különvélemény – Balavány György blogja.A nagy forgalmazók megveszik a politikusokat, hogy rendőrt uszíthassanak családokra, csak mert azok Garfield-et néznek a monitoron.

Az internet többek közt arra való, hogy kulturális tartalomhoz juthassunk, a napi hírömlenytől az elmélkedősebb anyagokon át a tudásbázisokig és tovább. Aki pedig azt állítja, hogy mindez ingyenes, és hogy a torrentezés bűn, az vagy téved, vagy hazudik. A hazugság, az tényleg bűn. Persze, a lopás is bűn, de ha valamiért fizettünk, akkor annak magunkhoz vétele nem lopás.

via Tanítsuk meg torrentezni a gyerekeket! – Különvélemény – Balavány György blogja.

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