The Pirate Bay is not only the most visited BitTorrent site on the Internet, but arguably the most censored too. Many ISPs have been ordered to block their customers’ access to the website, and recently Microsoft joined in on the action by stopping people sharing its location with others. Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger (MSN) now refuses to pass on links to The Pirate Bay website, claiming they are unsafe.
Imagine that you found this great new band sharing their music on BitTorrent for free.
You’re actually so excited about this find you want to share the experience with friends, so you paste them a link to the official torrent file via Windows Live Messenger.
Although this might sound like a good idea to some, Microsoft appears to disagree. Those who try to paste a Pirate Bay link to their friends through Windows Live Messenger will notice that it never reaches its destination.
Instead, Microsoft alerts the sender that The Pirate Bay is unsafe. Apparently, the company is actively monitoring people’s communications to prevent them from linking to sites they deem to be a threat.
The same happens in other chat clients such as Pidgin when using a Windows Live Messenger account.
Whatever Microsoft’s reason for monitoring private conversations and then swallowing Pirate Bay links, the Redmond-based company’s censorship policies are not very consistent. All of the other large BitTorrent sites remain unaffected, even though they offer content that’s identical to The Pirate Bay.
While it’s not clear whether the above is related to copyright concerns, censorship is indisputably an up-and-coming tool to protect the interests of the entertainment industries. Taking away your freedom of speech one link at a time.
TorrentFreak attempted to contact Microsoft for a comment on the issue, but we have yet to hear back.
Obama And ISP’s To Launch Largest Digital Spying Scheme In History (Must Read)
If you download potentially copyrighted software, videos or music, your Internet service provider (ISP) has been watching, and they’re coming for you.
Specifically, they’re coming for you on Thursday, July 1.
That’s the date when the nation’s largest ISPs will all voluntarily implement a new anti-piracy plan that will engage network operators in the largest digital spying scheme in history, and see some users’ bandwidth completely cut off until they sign an agreement saying they will not download copyrighted materials.
Word of the start date has been largely kept secret since ISPs announced their plans last June. The deal was brokered by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and coordinated by the Obama Administration. The same groups have weighed in heavily on controversial Internet policies around the world, with similar facilitation by the Obama’s Administration’s State Department.
The July 12 date was revealed by the RIAA’s CEO and top lobbyist, Cary Sherman, during a publishers’ conference on Wednesday in New York, according to technology publication CNet.
The content industries calls this scheme a “graduated response” plan, which will see
-Time Warner Cable
and others spying on users’ Internet activities and watching for potential copyright infringement. Users who are “caught” infringing on a creator’s protected work can then be interrupted with a notice that piracy is forbidden by law and carries penalties of up to $150,000 per infringement, requiring the user to click through saying they understand the consequences before bandwidth is restored, and they could still be subject to copyright infringement lawsuits.
Response: This is much worse than SOPA/PIPA and ACTA. It doesn’t necessarily censor the internet but it spys on everything you do. Your ENTIRE web history will be watched and recorded and might even assist the government. This was coordinated by Obama and his administration with the help of the MPAA and RIAA.
What is so dangerous about this is that this is not a law it is a policy adopted by several companies. That means this will not be debated in Congress and you will agree to be spied on by signing a contract with the company.
Internet censorship is becoming a reality and now the corporate elite will legally be able to spy on you. If we spread this and cause an uproar like what we did with SOPA, maybe they will back down. Either way people NEED to know about this.
As Xeni wrote, Twitter has adopted Google’s tactics for coping with legally binding censorship demands: from now on, when it receives a legal demand to censor a tweet, it will only censor that tweet for users in the country from which the demand emanates. Other countries’ users will still see it. Users in the censored country will see a notice that material has been censored. Additionally, all censorship demands will be archived at Chillngeffects.org, a clearinghouse that tracks Internet censorship.
In many ways, this is preferable to the existing system, whereby legally enforceable censorship orders would affect all Twitter users. And of course, Twitter only has to honor censorship demands in countries where it has offices and assets; Lower Pottsylvania can require removal of every mention of Glorious Leader, but unless Twitter has an office there, it can safely ignore the orders (JWZ points out
that Twitter has opened offices in many censorious countries and plans to open offices in more that if Twitter expands into censorious countries to attain its goal of one billion users, it will expose itself to more censorship requests, and that this expansion will be profit-driven as well because there’s money to be had by setting up local operations there).
It’s not a coincidence that Twitter’s censorship strategy is similar to Google’s — they were both set up by Alex Macgillivray, a Berkman Fellow and attorney who recently left Google for Twitter.
One interesting difference between Google’s censorship handling and Twitter’s is the ability of users to directly communicate with one another in a fast and fluid manner. If a tweet is censored in Saudi Arabia, it will be very easy for Saudi users to find non-Saudi users and ask, “What was in that censored message?” and then retweet it.
Among other things, Twitter wants to expand its audience from about 100 million active uses to more than 1 billion.
Reaching that goal will require expanding into more countries, which will mean Twitter will be more likely to have to submit to laws that run counter to the free-expression protections guaranteed under the first amendment in the US.