UK ISPs Now Filtering Websites That Simply List BitTorrent Proxy Websites, But Don't Host Any Infringing Content Whatsoever
from the is this real life? dept
It’s almost as if the UK is trying to be a shining example of the “slippery slope” we often refer to when talking about the dangers of filtering the Internet. Either that, or they’re secretly creating absurdist art. Whether it’s the government’s porn filter architect getting arrested for child porn, the UK’s filters blocking useful and entirely legal websites, or the desire to expand Internet filters to include ambiguously defined “extremist content,” the UK has finally achieved high comedy with its stumbling, bumbling foray into trying to clean up the Internet of its naughty bits.
With the country’s Pirate Bay filters going so well (as in not really well at all), the UK is engaged in a heated game of whac-a-mole to stop users from accessing the Pirate Bay specifically and BitTorrent websites in general. Despite years of effort and expenditures it remains relatively simple for most UK residents to dodge these bans, quite often by either changing simple DNS settings or by using a proxy server. The Pirate Bay has made it easier by often switching IP addresses, and when that doesn’t work, users can still access the website via dedicated proxy sites. UK ISPs were already being forced to filter these proxy sites.
Now, in an added wrinkle, UK ISPs have started filtering websites that simply list these proxy websites. That’s right, for good measure ISPs are now filtering websites that simply list other websites, but host no copyrighted material themselves whatsoever:
“Among the blocked sites are piratebayproxy.co.uk, piratebayproxylist.com and ukbay.org. Both sites are currently inaccessible on Virgin Media and TalkTalk, and other providers are expected to follow suit…TF spoke with Dan, the operator of UKBay.org, who’s baffled by the newly implemented blockade. He moved his site to a new domain to make the site accessible again, for the time being at least.
“The new blocks are unbelievable and totally unreasonable. To block a site that simply links to another site just shows the level of censorship we are allowing ISP’s to get away with,” Dan says. “UKBay is not even a PirateBay proxy. It simply provides links to proxies. If they continue blocking sites, that link to sites, that link to sites.. there’l be nothing left,” he adds.”
The filters include websites like piratebayproxy.co.uk, which features BitTorrent related news but also happens to list available proxies in a sidebar. What’s next? A filter on the websites that list the websites that list the websites that offer proxy access to BitTorrent websites? Maybe for good measure UK ISPs should start filtering forums where you can discuss even so much as thinking about piracy just to be safe? It makes one wonder: when does a slippery slope stop being a slippery slope — and just become an outright waterfall?