In another classic example of site blocking not achieving its original goals and simultaneously overstepping the mark into the realms of censoring completely legitimate content, Sky’s recent blocking of several torrent websites as per UK court orders, ended up also blocking popular image hosting site Imgur over the weekend.
And it’s all reasonably compressed movie torrent group, Yify’s fault.
According to the TorrentFreak break down, it worked like this. Yify’s website was recently blocked by the authorities, but to save its users having to run a VPN or go through proxies, it’s been experimenting with ways to beat the censors on its own. One of these methods was using caching servers combined with Cloudfare’s cloud service as a front end. This unblocked the site for most people in the UK, but due to the way that Sky’s blocking service worked, it ended up taking down Imgur instead.
“Sky regularly pull IP addresses listed on our DNS servers and adds them to their block list. This block list is then used by an advanced proxy system that redirects any requests to the blacklisted IP addresses to a webserver that the ISP owns which returns a blocked page message,” YIFY explained.
So when Yify started using CloudFare, Sky automatically blocked its IPs, which meant Imgur got hit too.
This is a case that’s all too familiar these days though, with automated blocking systems seen as a better way of dealing with piracy than context sensitive perusal by a human. Youtube’s recent debacle that saw hundreds of high profile Youtubers losing ownership of their videos simply because they display sequences of copyright protected content, despite being protected by fair use law, is another example.
KitGuru Says: These companies really need to stop cow towing to the media lobbies. It’s not only going to anger their own customers, but it’s going to eventually cut back on the ways people can actually view the products, which in turn will mean decreased business for everyone.
We’re free falling down the slippery slope of censorship. It starts with child abuse images, terrorism and piracy (three things that are incomparable but are often lumped together) and before long we’ll be using those Chinese produced filters that David Cameron loves so much to take down anything that could be considered anti-establishment.