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Censoring the Net – What Does Not Work, Won’t Work

August 13, 2013

We’ve had a lot more talk of this in the UK. At first is was adopting the ‘three strikes you’re out’ law that France used. It’s been dropped now, I suspect because it practically unenforceable without hitting major issues of people right to access information. It’s a blunt tool that assumes those using an identified IP are the right people to target.

I’d written before that such schemes can’t work in non-authoritarian countries. It won’t stop people from trying and sadly before they go often a number of people are caught in the dragnet before it collapses.

We’ve also seen the ban on sites like the Pirate Bay here, which are comically easy to get around. Practically it delays you by a few seconds from accessing such a site. The battle does not end there:

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, The Pirate Bay has released a new download called PirateBrowser. It’s effectively a functional web browser that will allow users to bypass ISP filters that typically block access to the site, as is found in countries such as the UK, the Netherlands and Italy.
The software is built on Firefox 23. TorrentFreak reports that a Windows version is available now with Mac and Linux versions soon to follow.
Upon booting it also offers pre-programmed bookmark access to a host of Torrent providers.
The Pirate Bay is reportedly working on new tech that would allow users to store and distribute entire websites, such as The Pirate Bay itself. The idea is that these sites will exist without a public facing website, thus making their blocking or enforced closure nearly impossible.

I should add, I make some of my living from selling content online and have had loads of my work pirated. This is not a post questioning the rights and wrongs of piracy (that’s a bigger debate) but simply stating what works and what does not.

We should be wary of those suggesting that censoring the net will somehow solve societal problems. It does not work and so won’t any more than the War on Drugs has stopped people from taking them.

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