Laws and Legalities

Google faces UK lawsuit over alleged spying on iPhone users

Google Might Have To Pay Over US $650 To Every iPhone User In UK

Google Could Owe Over US $650 To Every iPhone User For Allegedly Tracking Safari Users Between 2011-12

iPhone users in the UK could receive as much as $672 each from Google as compensation over bypassing Safari privacy setting controls between June 2011 and February 2012, if an attempted class action lawsuit goes against the search giant.

A British campaign group “Google You Owe Us” launched the representative action, the UK’s equivalent of a class action lawsuit, against Google on Thursday, after formally notifying the search giant of the claim in July, BBC News reports. The claim by the group is being made “on behalf of all qualifying iPhone users” based in England and Wales who were affected by the “Safari Workaround.” The lawsuit could cost Google as much as US $3.63 billion.

Google is accused of breaching principles in the UK’s data protection laws in a “violation of trust, fairness and money” for installing cookies on iPhones despite them being blocked in Safari’s settings and successfully tracking the online behavior of people using the Safari browser.

“I believe that what Google did was simply against the law. Their actions have affected millions, and we’ll be asking the courts to remedy this major breach of trust,” said Richard Lloyd, who is a former Executive Director of consumer watchdog publication Which? and has fought legal actions against companies before.

“Through this action, we will send a strong message to Google and other tech giants in Silicon Valley that we’re not afraid to fight back if our laws are broken.

“In all my years speaking up for consumers, I’ve rarely seen such as massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own.”

He added: “This is … the first case of its kind in the UK against a major tech company for misusing our valuable personal data.

“I want to spread the world about our claim. Google owes all of those affected fairness, trust and money. By joining together, we can show Google that they can’t get away with taking our data without our consent, and that no matter how large and powerful they are, nobody is above the law. That’s why I’ve taken on one of the biggest fights of my life in representing this legal action.”

A Google spokesperson said: “This is not new. We have defended similar cases before. We don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it.”

Source: The Guardian

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Denmark schools to expel students if they dont let them check their search history

Denmark schools to expell students if they dont let them check their search history

Students will have to Allow Teachers to Check Search History in Denmark

A new law relating to students in Denmark is making privacy headlines. The law in question has proposed by Merete Riisager the country’s education minister encourages students to provide their schools unfiltered access to their personal laptops. While the intention behind this move is to make it harder for students to cheat in examinations, it is being seeing as a medium for school to violate the privacy of their students.

The draft law will introduce rules that will allow schools to to carry out background checks on the students search history and social media activity. It goes as far as to allow examiners to examine a student’s laptop log files and more when deemed necessary. The proposal has already been forwarded for further consideration.

We should note however, that schools cannot force each and every student to hand over their personal laptops for examination instead, student have to give their consent before their laptops can be examined. To get around this, schools will be allowed to enforce strict penalties on students who refuse to provide consent – from having their machines confiscated to even being expelled – thereby giving students little choice.

The rules have received a fair amount of backlash from both students and teachers with many terming the rules an unfair invasion of an individual’s privacy – an inference agreed to by The chairman of the Danish High School Association, Jens Philip Yazdani. Further support against the implementation on these rules has come from the chairman of the IT Political Association, Jesper Lund, and law professor Sten Schaumburg-Müller from the University of Southern Denmark.

Sources: Geek Reply

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Developer Sues Apple For Allegedly Stealing iPhone X ‘Animoji’ Trademark

Developer Sues Apple For Allegedly Stealing iPhone X ‘Animoji’ Trademark

Apples gets sued over iPhone X Animoji infringement

Animojis for those who don’t remember are animated emojis that are created using the facial recognition features of the iPhone X and were widely talked about coming out of Apple’s September event. They were supposed to be a big deal for the company, however, it now looks like Apple will be fighting off a copyright infringement lawsuit to just keep the name.

3 year old feature

Reports are now coming out that Enrique Bonansea and his company emonster have had an app named Animoji listed on Apple’s app store since 2014 and have held the trademark since 2015. The app allows anyone to receive an iMessage with Animojis attached without the need to have the app actually installed on the device. The app bills itself as a “fast, free and easy-to-use tool to animate your text and email messages.”

This doesn’t seem to be a case of Apple not aware on the existence of the trademark as Bonansea  says that he has been approached multiple times by Apple through various entities in an attempt to buy the trademark. When he refused to sell, he was threatened with cancellation of his trademark. On reports that Apple new about the existence of his app, he says Apple had to know about it since the company had complied when he had requested several competing apps to be taken down. The legal complaint reads as follows:


“Instead of using the creativity on which Apple developed its worldwide reputation, Apple simply plucked the name from a developer on its own App Store. Apple could have changed its desired name prior to its announcement when it realized Plaintiffs already used ANIMOJI for their own product. Yet Apple made the conscious decision to try to pilfer the name for itself — regardless of the consequences.”

Legal Hurdles

The case isn’t an open and shut as it seems however. It turns out, the trademark was originally filed by Bonansea was for his company emonster inc. That company has since been dissolved in favor of emonster k.k – his new Japanese company. Based on this, Apple has already filed for cancellation of the company held trademark.

However, Emonster’s trademark attorney has filed for a technical correction in ownership claiming that both the companies acted as a single commercial enterprise. However, the correction has been rejected due to it being filed after the request for cancellation. Since then, Bonansea and emonster k.k. have reapplied for the trademark citing the active use of the app since 2014. If it weren’t for this technicality, this would’ve been an open and shut case, now we will have to wait for the court’s judgement.

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Spanish Data Watchdog Fines Facebook 1.2 million euros

Spanish Data Watchdog Fines Facebook 1.2 million euros

Facebook fined 1.2 million euros for breaking privacy laws by Spanish data watchdog

Facebook has been slapped with a fine of 1.2 million euros ($1.44 million) for failing to protect its users’ data from being allegedly used for promotion by advertisers on three instances, announced the Spain’s data protection agency (AEPD) on Monday.

According to the Spanish Data Protection Agency, the social networking giant collected personal information from its users in Spain without obtaining their “unequivocal consent” and without letting them know how such information would be used.

“Facebook collects data on ideology, sex, religious beliefs, personal tastes or navigation without clearly informing about the use and purpose that it will give them,” the statement said.

The privacy policy of Facebook “contains generic and unclear terms” and it “does not adequately collect the consent of either its users or nonusers, which constitutes a serious infringement” of data protection rules, said the watchdog.

The agency said it also found evidence that Facebook stored information of deleted accounts.

“When a social network user has deleted his account and requests the deletion of the information, Facebook still keeps the information for more than 17 months, through a deleted account cookie,” it added. “Therefore, the personal data of the users is not cancelled in full when it is no longer useful for the purpose for which it was collected, nor when the user explicitly requests its removal.”

Since it doesn’t, the AEPD found two “serious” violations and one “very serious” violation of the country’s Organic Law on Data Protection (LOPD), for which it fined the social network 300,000 euros for each of the first and 600,000 euros for the second respectively.

It concluded that the average Facebook user is unaware of how the social network collects, stores and uses their data on third-party websites.

The AEPD said it worked on the investigation into the social network company in co-ordination with the data protection authorities of other European countries such as Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

The company that posted advertising revenues of $9.2 billion in the second quarter that came mainly from mobile video ad sales, for them the 1.2-million-euro fine is too a trivial amount to get worried about.

When Facebook was contacted on the matter regarding the fine by TNW, it responded by saying that “We take note of the DPA’s decision with which we respectfully disagree. Whilst we value the opportunities we’ve had to engage with the DPA to reinforce how seriously we take the privacy of people who use Facebook, we intend to appeal this decision.

“As we made clear to the DPA, users choose which information they want to add to their profile and share with others, such as their religion. However, we do not use this information to target adverts to people.”

“Facebook has long complied with EU data protection law through our establishment in Ireland. We remain open to continuing to discuss these issues with the DPA, whilst we work with our lead regulator the Irish Data Protection Commissioner as we prepare for the EU’s new data protection regulation in 2018.”

Earlier this year, Facebook was fined $122 million in fine by the European Commission for providing “incorrect or misleading” information during its purchase of WhatsApp in 2014.

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4 People Arrested For Leaking Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 “Spoils of War”

Four people have been arrested from Hotstar owner Star TVs in India for leaking Game of Thrones season 7 episode 4, ‘The Spoils of War’

While HBO is busy containing the 1.35 TB leak that happened to its servers, the Mumbai police are quietly going about doing their work by arresting 4 main culprits behind the Game of Thrones, Season 7 Episode 4 “Spoils of War” Leak.

After the episode was leaked on torrent websites, many had assumed that the HBO hackers had something to do with it. However, later it emerged that a separate set of hackers had targeted Hotstar, the App based movie streaming service of Star India which has many entertainment and sports channels beaming through India and other South Asian countries.

The leaked episode was low-res and buggy leading to the assumption that the uploaders were amateurs. After receiving a complaint from a Mumbai-based company that processes Thrones episodes for Hotstar the Android and iOS App, “we investigated the case and have arrested four individuals for unauthorized publication of the fourth episode from season seven,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Akbar Pathan.

What gave the hackers away was the Star India watermark on the leaked version of the episode, which surfaced online two days before its official broadcast. The watermark clearly suggested that the GoT S07E04 leak had taken place from the Star India offices in Mumbai.

The 21st Century Fox-owned company quickly released a statement following the leak, saying: “This confirms the compromise of episode 4 of Game of Thrones Season 7, earlier this afternoon. We take this breach very seriously and have immediately initiated forensic investigations at our and the technology partner’s end to swiftly determine the cause. This is a grave issue and we are taking appropriate legal remedial action.”

Now, police have arrested four employees of Star India who the authorities say had privileged access to the GoT Season 7 Episode 4 “Spoils of War”  The arrests were made based on the complaint filed by Star India. After the leak, the firm which deals in technological aid to media companies carried out an internal inquiry which revealed that the episode was accessed using ID of their employee Abhishekh Ghadiyal. But the stolen data was sent using email account of an ex-employee Mohammed Suhail. Police have arrested all the masterminds behind the leak namely, Ghadiyal, Suhail, Bhaskar Navinchandra Joshi and Alok Sharma in the case.

The Mumbai police also said that while Ghadiyal stole the episode from Star India servers, his colleague Joshi and Sharma uploaded it on the torrent websites. The ultimate motive behind the leak was divulged by the police.

A case has been registered under sections 408 (Criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant) and 34 (common intention) of IPC and 43 (damage to the computer, computer system, etc.) and 66 (computer related offenses) of the IT Act. However, IT acts are notoriously incompetent in India and the accused may be out on bail soon.

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72-Year-Old Man Accused Of Downloading Movies Illegally

72-Year-Old Man Accused Of Downloading Movies Illegally

Elderly Hawaiin Man Says He Is Wrongfully Indicted

In a state-wide crackdown conducted by Hawaiin police recently on its residents for downloading illegal movies, a 72-year-old Kailua man is being sued for downloading pirated movies. However, he has denied the claim as “absolutely absurd” and said that he has being wrongfully accused.

I’ve never illegally downloaded anything … or even legally! I use my computer for email, games, news and that’s about it,” John J. Harding said. “It was kind of overwhelming because I’ve never downloaded anything in my life, and a movie, it’s crazy!” Harding added.

A local attorney has been hired by movie companies to hunt down alleged offenders. However, some are of the view that innocent people are being targeted by movie companies.

In the month of June, Harding received a letter from local attorney, Kerry Culpepper, that accused him of downloading a movie and also listed Harding’s IP address for having over 1,000 other pirated downloads. Culpepper works for the rightsholders of movies such as ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in Venice.’

Culpepper asked the Hawaii Federal Court for a subpoena, which ordered the associated Internet provider to disclose the details of the customers who downloaded illegally at IP addresses that he tracked down. Although Harding was one of them, it’s possible someone else may have used his internet service.

The accusation came as a shock to Harding, who said that he never downloads anything, which means it is likely that someone else may have been using his internet service.

I know definitely that I’m not guilty and my wife is not guilty. So what’s going on? Did somebody hack us?” Harding said. “Is somebody out there actively hacking us? How they do that and go about doing that, I have no idea.”

The settlement requests sent by the attorney to the exposed users’ states, “Our firm is authorized to accept the sum of $3,900 as full settlement for our client’s claims. This offer will expire on 7/31/2017. Thereafter, our client will accept no less than the sum of $4,900 to settle this matter, but this increased settlement offer will expire on 8/7/2017.”

However, the elderly man was not interested in accepting the offer. “The tone of the letter was basically, pay up or we’re coming after you,” Harding said. “It’s absurd. Absolutely absurd.”

Culpepper said damages go up to $150,000 per illegal download and said the letter was not just a scare ploy.

I have to strike a balance between getting the attention of the subscriber, but not causing too much stress, and I believe that my letters strike that balance,” Culpepper said.

Adding further, Culpepper said that people who feel that they have been wrongfully indicted need to contact his office.

This is similar to a car stolen. If your car was stolen and your car hit someone or did some damage, initially the victim would look to see who was the owner of the car,” he said. “You would probably tell them, someone stole my car. That time, that person would try to find the person who stole your car.”

In the past, Culpepper said that he has accepted lower settlements and sometimes apology letters instead of payment.

We’re not trying to bankrupt people or take food from the mouths of struggling people. The purpose of this campaign is to deter piracy,” he said.

While Harding is not planning to hire an attorney due to expenses, on the other hand, Culpepper is advising people not to ignore his letters.

“The worst thing that could happen would be someone who is not responsible for this becoming a named defendant.”

Jonathan Yunger, vice president of Millennium Media, the parent company of one of the complainants, said they are not after people’s money. They want people to take piracy very seriously and stop downloading illegally content.

Source: Hawaii News Now

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Israel Charges U.S.-Israeli Teen Of Running Bomb Threat Service On The Dark Web

Israel Charges U.S.-Israeli Teen Of Running Bomb Threat Service On The Dark Web

The 19-year-old Teen Sold Bomb Threats Against Jewish Centers, Schools

An Israeli American teenager who was arrested on March 23 in connection with a string of bomb threats made to at least 245 schools and Jewish community centers (JCCs) in the U.S. earlier this year has been indicted for running a bomb threat business on the online black market.

Israeli prosecutors said the suspect made thousands of hoax bomb calls, including schools, shopping malls, police stations, airlines and airports in North America, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Denmark.

According to unsealed court documents, the FBI revealed that Michael Kadar, 19, was running a “School Email Bomb Threat Service” on AlphaBay, a dark web marketplace which sold illegal goods and services until it was shut down by the U.S. authorities in July.

Kadar use to issue bomb threats through emails that contained the message “Comrades [had] planted a few bombs at school,” and that students and staff members will be “massacred mercilessly shortly”, which gave rise to fears of increasing anti-Semitism and provoking scores of evacuations, the FBI alleges.

A newly unsealed search warrant alleges that for each bomb threat, Kadar used to charge $30 and if the client wanted to frame an individual for the message, he would charge an additional $15.

Kadar was arrested by the police in Israel in March after he failed to route his internet connection via a proxy server that in turn gave away his IP address. He was arrested under suspicion that he was behind a wave of bomb threats targeting Jewish institutions in the U.S.

When the police raided Kadar’s residence, they found a flash drive containing the teen’s personal records on his alleged bomb threats.

Kadar allegedly joined the dark web market AlphaBay under the username “Darknet_Legend” on February 8.

“I have saved email bomb threat texts when I email the bomb threat,” Kadar allegedly advertised in an AlphaBay post under the name Darknet_Legend. “If you request that I send the school a custom email text that you wrote then give me the bomb threat text that you wrote in the buyer notes and I will send the school the text you provided.”

The post offered refunds to its customers for unsuccessful bomb threats, and tiered pricing ranging from $30 for a single threat, to $90 for “emailed bomb threat to a school districts\multiple schools + framing someone for it”.

For this latter service, Darknet_Legend added a warning: “there is a no guarantee that the police will question or arrest the framed person,” he wrote in the advertisement. “I just add the persons name to the email. In addition in my experience of doing bomb threats putting someones name in the emailed threat will reduce the chance of the threat being successful. But it’s up to you if you would like me to frame someone.”

And the business even had a very good review where one AlphaBay user wrote: “Amazing on time and on target. We got evacuated and got the day cut short” — that online post, made hours after a threat made to Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park, California, north of San Francisco was closed as police investigated a threat.

Kadar totally racked up $240,000 for his services by the time he was arrested. He is facing accusations of making threats for financial gain alongside charges of money laundering and the attempted blackmail of Ernesto Lopez, a Delaware state senator. Kadar has been charged in the U.S. and Israel simultaneously. However, he has not been extradited to America until now. If he gets convicted on the charges in Israel, he can face up to 10 years in prison.

The teen’s U.S. born mother and Israeli father say their son, who moved to Israel aged 5 and lives with them in the southern city of Ashkelon, suffers from health problems.

“He has high-level autism. I appeal to the world on his behalf for forgiveness for he does not know what he has done,” his mother told reporters. “This tumour has caused a state of some type of mental dysfunction that he is not aware of what he is doing. My son does not hate anyone.”

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WannaCry hero ‘Marcus Hutchins’ arrested and charged with malware offences in the U.S

Hacker Who Stopped WannaCry Ransomware Arrested By FBI

Marcus Hutchins accused of creating Russian banking Trojan ‘Kronos’

Not so long ago, Marcus Hutchins, a 23-year-old British security researcher with the blog name “MalwareTech” became an ‘accidental hero’ when he discovered an effective kill switch to stop the biggest unprecedented WannaCry ransomware attack that had crippled thousands of computers. The ransomware spread to more than 300,000 computers across 150 countries around the world in May 2017.

However, this saviour was arrested this Wednesday at the Black Hat and Def Con cyber-security conference as part of an FBI investigation for his alleged involvement in an unrelated malware attack much before his WannaCry heroics, as first reported by Motherboard.

Apparently, Hutchins is involved in creating and distributing malicious software ‘Kronos’, a Russian banking Trojan, through emails with malicious attachments to steal user’s money using credentials such as internet banking passwords, the U.S. authorities said on Thursday.

According to an indictment released by the U.S. Department of Justice, Hutchins faces six counts of helping to create, spread and maintain the banking Trojan Kronos between 2014 and 2015. The indictment alleged that Hutchins “created the Kronos malware” and the other person, who was not named, later sold it for $2,000 online. The malware had been configured to access username and password information on banking websites and was used in Canada, Germany, Poland, France, the UK, and other countries.

Marcus Hutchins… a citizen and resident of the United Kingdom, was arrested in the United States on 2 August, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada, after a grand jury in the Eastern District of Wisconsin returned a six-count indictment against Hutchins for his role in creating and distributing the Kronos banking Trojan,” the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a statement.

The charges against Hutchins, and for which he was arrested, relate to alleged conduct that occurred between in or around July 2014 and July 2015.”

The malware was first made available in early 2014, and “marketed and distributed through AlphaBay, a hidden service on the Tor network,” said the authorities. However, the U.S. Department of Justice in July announced that the AlphaBay “darknet” marketplace was shut down after an international law enforcement effort.

The arrest of Hutchins has created shockwaves in the cyber world leaving many of them baffled. Jake Williams, a respected cybersecurity researcher, said he found it hard to believe Hutchins is guilty. Both of them have worked on various projects, including training material for higher education for which the Briton declined payment.

He’s a stand-up guy,” Williams said in a text chat. “I can’t reconcile the charges with what I know about him.”

Hutchins was being held at the Henderson Detention Center in Nevada early on Thursday. However, according to a close personal friend, he was moved to another facility a few hours after.

His friend told Motherboard they “tried to visit him as soon as the detention centre opened but he had already been transferred out.”

I’ve spoken to the US Marshals again and they say they have no record of Marcus being in the system. At this point we’ve been trying to get in contact with Marcus for 18 hours and nobody knows where he’s been taken,” the person added. “We still don’t know why Marcus has been arrested and now we have no idea where in the US he’s been taken to and we’re extremely concerned for his welfare.”

A U.S. Marshals spokesperson told Motherboard in an email, “my colleague in Las Vegas says this was an FBI arrest. Mr. Hutchins is not in U.S. Marshals custody.”

On the other hand, the UK Consulate in New York is “in touch with local authorities in Las Vegas” following Hutchin’s arrest. The UK’s National Cyber Security Center said that “We are aware of the situation. This is a law enforcement matter and it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

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Alphabay, The Biggest Black Market On The Dark Web, Shut Down By Law Enforcement Authorities

Alphabay, The Biggest Black Market On Dark Web, Shut Down; Alleged Founder Commits Suicide

AlphaBay’s alleged founder commits suicide in jail while awaiting extradiction

AlphaBay, one of the world’s largest Dark Web black market for sale of drugs, hacking tools, malware, stolen data, weapons, and other illegal goods has been shut down by the international authorities.

For those unfamiliar, AlphaBay came to existence in 2014 after the exit of Silk Road, another marketplace where drugs, pornography and firearms were bought and sold. Silk Road was shut down after the law enforcement raided its servers in October 2013 and arrested its founder, Ross Ulbricht, who is currently in prison.

The AlphaBay market had mysteriously gone dark last week on Tuesday, July 4th, without any explanation from its admins, thereby leaving many of its online drug vendors and buyers in panic who had paid large sums. Some customers even speculated it to be possibly the largest “exit scam” in history prompting fears that millions of dollars could have been taken from its customers.

However, the Wall Street Journal cleared the air on the black marketplace’s disappearance act as a shutdown done by the authorities in the United States, Canada, and Thailand who conducted several raids and arrested Alexandre Cazes, who allegedly was one of the AlphaBay’s operators.

“An online marketplace that sold illegal goods on the so-called Dark Web was shut last week following action by international authorities, according to people familiar with the matter.” states the WSJ.

The publication cited “people familiar with the matter” and claimed that Cazes, a 26-year-old Canadian citizen, was arrested in Thailand. During the arrest, the police seized “four Lamborghini cars and three houses worth about 400 million baht ($11.7 million) in total.”

He was taken into custody in Bangkok on July 5th, the same day the police executed two raids on residences in Quebec, Canada. Cazes was awaiting extradition to the US when a guard found him hanging in his jail cell on Wednesday. He is believed to have hanged himself using a towel, according to the Chiang Rai Times.

“Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) Pol Maj Gen Sunthon Chalermkiat told Thai media yesterday that an initial examination of the body of Canadian Alexander Cazes, points to suicide,” reports the Chiangraitimes.

“A duty officer noticed a towel hanging from the toilet door in his cell about 7am, but could not see him, police said. The officer unlocked and entered the cell and found Cazes dead in the toilet.”

Cazes had worked as a computer programmer and had a Thai wife. Cazes was residing in Thailand for nearly 8 years on the lam from drug trafficking charges in the United States. At the request of US authorities, the Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant on June 30. Cazes was arrested at the Private House estate on Buddha Monthon Sai 3 Road in Thawi Watthana district.

While the case still remains unresolved, it also remains unclear if anyone else has access to the necessary resources so that AlphaBay can be relaunched in the future.

“It is also unclear as to what Cazes may have told the authorities in regards to AlphaBay, its users, or other people working on the platform.” continues the Chiangrai Times.

“On Reddit, there is some wild speculation as to whether or not these claims are true. It is hard to determine if Cazes is the real AlphaBay admin, but all of the information seems to hint at that outcome. His arrest coincides with the platform going down, and it would also explain why AlphaBay has not resurfaced. On the platform, the admin is known as “deSnakes”, which very well could indeed by Cazes.”

If Cazes was indeed the AlphaBay administrator, then this once popular marketplace may not rise from the dead ever again.

Source: Security affairs

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The Pirate Bay Can Be Blocked, Rules Top EU Court

The Pirate Bay Can Be Blocked, Rules Top EU Court

The Pirate Bay can be blocked, as it facilitates piracy

In a landmark judgement made by the EU Court of Justice on Wednesday, it cleared the way for a ban on the peer-to-peer file-sharing website, The Pirate Bay (TPB) and similar sites in the Netherlands citing infringement of the European Copyright laws. This would mean that internet providers in Europe can be directed to block access to TPB, even though it does not actually host any infringing material itself.

TPB is a BitTorrent peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing site that lists catalogues of files (such as music and film files) that are shared via trackers.

The ruling is an outcome of the longest running legal battle between Stichting Brien, a Dutch anti-piracy group and two Dutch Internet providers, Ziggo and XS4ALL with the former applying for an injunctive order against the latter that would require them to block access for their customers to TPB.

According to Stichting Brein, the torrents sites are a source of illegal downloads that are being facilitated by internet firms. Further, over 90% of these files contain works made available to users without the copyright owners’ consent and TPB is not responding to requests to remove this torrent files.

As a result, the Dutch District court ordered Ziggo and XS4ALL to block subscribers’ access to TPB. However, the Dutch Court of Appeal, overturned that decision on the basis that defendants in the main proceedings, and not TPB, were the originators of the copyright infringements and, that the blocking sought would not be proportionate to the aim pursued (namely the effective protection of copyright). They also said that the blockade was ineffective and restricted the ISPs’ entrepreneurial freedoms.

The Pirate Bay was unblocked by all local ISPs in the Netherlands and they began to operate freely. Stichting Brein then took the matter to the Netherlands Supreme Court. The Supreme Court took the view that the Court of Appeal had been wrong in its analysis to overturn the blocking order and subsequently referred the case to the EU Court of Justice, seeking further clarification.

After a careful review of the case, the Court of Justice ruled that The Pirate Bay can indeed be blocked. Even though the operators don’t share anything themselves, they knowingly provide users with a platform to share copyright-infringing links. Under the EU Copyright Directive, this can be seen as “an act of communication”, the Court concludes.

“Making available and managing an online platform for sharing copyright-protected works such as ‘The Pirate Bay’ may constitute an infringement of copyright,” the court said in a press release (pdf). “Whilst it accepts that the works in question are placed online by the users, the Court highlights the fact that the operators of the platform play an essential role in making those works available.”

The decision will now be forwarded to the Supreme Court, says a spokesman for the European Court. The Supreme Court will finally decide whether the blockade imposed on TPB in 2012 can be re-imposed again. Based on the ruling of the EU, it appears that there are no major obstacles for the Dutch Supreme Court to issue an ISP blockade.

Brein director Tim Kuik called the ruling “groundbreaking”, “This kind of torrent sites infringes copyright and the decision of the court confirms that we can demand a blockade.

The decision made at the European level in Netherlands could also have consequences on the court orders in other countries where TPB and other torrent sites are already blocked, including Austria, Belgium, Finland, Italy, and Sweden.

However, the Pirate Bay team does not seem to be too perturbed with the negative outcome.

“Copyright holders will remain stubborn and fight to hold onto a dying model. Clueless and corrupt law makers will put corporate interests before the public’s. Their combined jackassery is what keeps TPB alive,” TPB supermod plc365 tells TorrentFreak.

“The reality is that regardless of the ruling, nothing substantial will change. Maybe more ISPs will block TPB. More people will use one of the hundreds of existing proxies, and even more new ones will be created as a result.”

“Xe”, a Pirate Bay moderator mentions that while it’s an extra obstacle to access the site, blockades will ultimately help people to circumvent censorship efforts, which are not restricted to TPB.

“They’re an issue for everyone in the sense that they’re an obstacle which has to be overcome. But learning how to work around them isn’t hard and knowing how to work around them is becoming a core skill for everyone who uses the Internet.

“Blockades are not a major issue for the site in the sense that they’re nothing new: we’ve long since adapted to them. We serve the needs of millions of people every day in spite of them,” Xe adds.

Source: TorrentFreak

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