The Rebirth of The Pirate Bay that we reported on recently could be a sham site set up by the FBI with the intention of snagging punters.
It could not be, but there are increasing suspicions that this is the case, and there were probably some clues at the time.
We reported on the Pirate Bay relaunch earlier this week, saying that there was some kind of divide between the members of the site.
The new service was considered to be something of a spin-off that had done away with a number of administrators in order to be more hands-off.
However, it has the hallmarks of something that is hands-on, according to Twitter messages from an account used by the Anonymous hacker collective.
Questions were raised about the new site, including the passing of the old admins and the decision to use Cloudflare integration.
In some cases people pointed to FBI-like flags. The use of Cloudflare suggests that user information might be exposed to the warrant-like demands of the surveillance agencies.
— TheAnonMessage (@TheAnonMessages) February 1, 2015
The Pirate Bay people have denied that the site is a puppet for the FBI and have explained away the use of Cloudflare in a statement sent to TorrentFreak.
“We have seen that there has been some question to why we are using Cloudflare. This is only initially to handle the massive load on the servers. It will be removed shortly,” the statement said.
But, while the Pirate Bay is linked with the US-based Cloudflare it will be associated with the risk of national security investigations and warrants. Cloudflare has not commented.
TorrentFreak added in a later article that the Pirate Bay has moved away from its previous service provider, Trabia, and is now the guest of an unknown, or hidden, provider.
Taken together these things add up to a site that you may choose not to use. Of course, it might not be an FBI plant, and it might be the FBI, or someone else, that has started raising suspicions in order to keep people away from the magnetic phoenix. Take care out there.
The staff of The Pirate Bay have been telling the world+dog how it uses a mix of servers to avoid detection and police raids. Speaking to Torrent Freak, the site said the site uses a series of virtual machines to fool companies into hosting the torrent site.
The Pirate Bay doesn’t own any physical servers. Rather, the site is spread across different commercial cloud hosting providers. Twenty-one “virtual machines” are scattered around the world and are used to handle different functions of the site. The Pirate Bay uses the virtual machines to break the site’s functions down onto different hosting platforms. The cloud hosting is split up amongst its virtual machines: eight web, six search, two database, one Linux virtual server as a load balancer, one stats and one handles proxy sites. Another runs torrents and another is the control.
The load balancer distributes the traffic to the virtual machines and masks what they are actually doing. Investigators can’t actually “see” where Pirate Bay’s web site actually is, and Pirate Bay can host its site on commercial cloud hosting servers without worrying about discovery.
The sophisticated hosting set-up means that if anything happens to one of the site’s hosting providers, the virtual machine can be quickly moved to another hosting company.
But cloud hosting means that The Pirate Bay is virtually raid-proof as there are no physical servers to seize. The underlying servers powering the virtual servers don’t know they’re hosting Pirate Bay — so it’s difficult for police to actually take the site down.
The Pirate Bay, the self-styled “world’s most resilient torrent site”, has released a mobile version of its website for the first time.
The Mobile Bay taps into the increasing storage capacity of mobile devices and the growing number of uncapped 4G data plans.
Offering millions of uploaded torrents from blockbuster movies and TV shows, cracked software packages and pornography, the vast majority of its content is considered illegal in almost every country of the world, leading to a global game of cat and mouse as the outfit adapts to stay online.
Up to now, the only version of the website has been the desktop version which simply resizes, however a spokesperson for The Pirate Bay admitted to Torrentfreak that “the normal version of the site renders like crap on a mobile device”.
The mobile website appears not to have been blocked by UK ISPs as yet, as we were able to access it this afternoon. It has all the functionality of the regular website but with a mobile friendly page format.
Unfortunately, that includes the many adverts for casinos, clandestine video websites and other nasties that manifest as pop-unders on the desktop version.
The Pirate Bay already has its own web browser for the desktop, an adapted version of Firefox that uses privacy tool Tor, and a number of unofficial web browsing apps exist for The Pirate Bay in mobile app stores.
Peter Sunde, a co-founder of the Swedish torrent tracker was recently arrested after being on the run for eight years, having been convicted of aiding copyright infringement in 2009.
The site was shut down in August 2012 by Ukrainian authorities following a difficult time in which a DDoS attack temporarily pushed it off the internet.
“Investigators have copied all the information from the servers Demonoid and sealed them,” said an anonymous source from hoster Colocall at the time.
“Some equipment was not seized, but now it does not work, and we were forced to terminate the agreement with the site.”
It was news site Torrentfreak that reported the shutdown, and it is on the same site that we read about its phoenix like return.
Torrentfreak says that this URL http://inferno.demonoid.com:3396/announce has gone live and is in the process of collating some 388,321 torrent files from over one million peers.
“This means that Demonoid has instantly settled itself among the five largest BitTorrent trackers on the Internet,” it adds.
There is no official comment, yet, and Torrentfreak has linked this site to the old one because it shares the same domain. It does, however, appear to be hosted in Sweden.
The old Demonoid was hosted in the Ukraine and was not shut down for breaking any local laws, we are given to understand.
Rather it was wiped from local servers in the preparation for the country’s deputy prime minister Valery Khoroshkovsky’s first trip to the United States.
The old Demonoid “We are closed” page, is still live and still asking for Bitcoins. “Coming back soon, please check back later,” it says. “Thanks for your visit!!”
Responses to the relaunch mostly fall in the skeptical camp.
The website is reacting to pressures from rights holders. It is very unpopular among media firms and in the UK, at least, most ISPs are blocking access to it and some other websites like it.
The Pirate Bay has made a number of changes already, most recently having to do with its domain name and address, and it has also been working behind the scenes on a system that makes the website and its Bittorrent links available to users.
“The goal is to create a browser-like client to circumvent censorship, including domain blocking, domain confiscation, IP-blocking. This will be accomplished by sharing all of a site’s indexed data as P2P downloadable packages, that are then browsed/rendered locally,” said a Pirate Bay insider to the Torrentfreak website.
“It’s basically a browser-like app that uses webkit to render pages, Bittorrent to download the content while storing everything locally.”
The Pirate Bay already has its own web browser and that has acquired some 2.5 million users. Released on the 10-year anniversary of the filesharing website, it promised a TOR-based browser bundle. Again, as now, that was pitched as a solution for security and content aware web users.
“Piratebrowser is a bundle package of the TOR client (Vidalia), Firefox Portable browser (with foxyproxy addon) and some custom configs that allows you to circumvent censorship that certain countries such as Iran, North Korea, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Italy and Ireland impose onto their citizens,” it explained.
“While it uses TOR network, which is designed for anonymous surfing, this browser is intended just to circumvent censorship – to remove limits on accessing websites your government doesn’t want you to know about.”
Japan will enforce anti-’piracy’ laws that criminalize illegally downloading media files.
The penalties see downloaders running the risk of a two year stay in prison and a fine of up to about $25K, according to a BBC report.
The BBC reports that the enforcement proposal follows a lobbying campaign by the Japanese music industry, adding that the penalties could apply even if someone has downloaded only a single file. The laws were passed two years ago, but so far have not been implemented.
Local rightsholders will be hoping that from now on the criminal penalties will be enforced, and in spades. They are the kind of sanctions that rightsholders dream of and are much stricter than the three-strikes policy in the US.
Anyone caught uploading is also treated more sternly, and could be jailed for as long as ten years.
Japan has a large market for media material, and its government apparently is bowing to protect the interests of rightsholders.
This past Summer the Japanese government ratified the draconian Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), despite it being rejected elsewhere.
The IDL was set up by protest group Fight for the Future following the recent outbreak of web site blackouts that were launched to protest against legislation like SOPA and PIPA. It offers web sites a way to show that they are always ready to defend the internet against attack.
“The Internet Defense League takes the tactic that killed SOPA and PIPA and turns it into a permanent force for defending the internet, and making it better,” it says on its homepage. “Think of it like the internet’s Emergency Broadcast System, or its bat signal!”
Like those earlier protests, the idea is to get the more informed people, people that are actually operating internet properties, into the debate.
“Internet freedom and individual power are changing the course of history. But entrenched institutions and monopolies want this to stop,” explains the group. “Elected leaders often don’t understand the internet, so they’re easily confused or corrupted.”
Anyone that runs a web site is invited to join, and the idea is to get millions of people involved. Once they have joined the IDL they will be given software code to add to their web sites to show that they are members.
When more action is needed, more code will be sent and hopefully millions of web sites will show the same message of opposition. “The next time there’s an emergency, we’ll tell you and send new code,” it adds. “Then it’s your decision to pull the trigger.”
The group’s first targets include ACTA, the draconian Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
The RIAA fired the first salvo in the war of words, as other battles are being waged online and in government, when it accused The Pirate Bay of being a dreadful copyright thief.
The RIAA was commenting on the Pirate Bay’s decision to upsticks and move to a Swedish .se web domain and accused it of being brazen, and “one of the worst of the worst”.
“A blatantly illegal file-sharing site, proud that it’s an online bazaar of every conceivable U.S. copyrighted work, found criminally responsible by its own country’s legal system and who has been ordered by courts in at least seven European countries to be blocked by ISPs, has publicly acknowledged changing its domain name to escape U.S. laws,” wrote the RIAA in a blog post.
“It is motivated by its brazen philosophy of thumbing its nose at the basic rights of America’s creators. It is, in a phrase, one of the worst of the worst.”
A spokesman for The Pirate Bay has responded in a guest post at Torrentfreak. There a spokesman named “Winston” – with credit to George Orwell – said that this statement shows how detached and delusional the music industry has become.
“The piece gives us ample information on just how delusional the recording industry really is, and shows why they must be stopped,” said Winston in response to the post from Mitch Glazier, an impressively over-titled senior executive vice president at the RIAA.
“In the very first sentence Glazier uses the phrase ‘copyright theft’. It’s an interesting concept – if anyone in history ever stole copyright, it must be the record industry… A small lesson to Mr Glazier: If someone steals something, you don’t have it anymore. If you copy it, both have it. This means: If someone steals your copyright (aka ‘copyright theft’) you don’t have the copyright anymore. I’m having a hard time to see that happening though, since copyright isn’t really physical.”
Winston pokes fun at the RIAA, saying that it is out of date and relying on archaic arguments to shore up its cause.
“Maybe (jobs lost to ‘piracy’) just aren’t needed anymore! That’s what technology does! Sorry, it’s 2012 not 1912 – do you want to forbid robots as well, since they steal jobs?” he asks.
Referring back to Glaziers comment about the web site being banned in a number of countries, and relating it to the recent European Court of Justice Sabam decision that outlawed monitoring and filtering content, he suggested that the RIAA might be supporting illegal activity.
“And Mr. Glazier, talking about the countries in the EU that you have forced ISPs to block TPB (and other sites) is interesting, as the European Court has just decided that these types of censorship are just that – censorship, and should be treated as illegal,” he added. “Could we see your view on the matter, as the RIAA is clearly supporting illegal censorship?”
There is no love lost between the parties, of course, and while the RIAA suggests that it wants to work with the technology industry, The Pirate Bay will have nothing to do with it.
“F*ck that. You’re not in charge. If you want the help of the tech industry, ask for it. You’ll probably get it since most tech people are nice. You’re not in charge anymore and that’s probably why you’re pissed off,” he said.
“The recording industry is like a kid screaming for candy. The problem is that the kid has diabetes.”
According to Torrent Freak, more than 736,000 ‘first strike’ and 62,000 ‘second strike’ letters have been sent out by French authorities, with 165 on their ‘third strike’.
A report due to be published by IFPI next week will suggest that Hadopi is a success that has contributed to a 22.5 per cent increase in purchases from Apple’s Itunes.
The French put in place a ‘three strikes’ scheme in January 2010 to try to cut down on unauthorized filesharing.
Hadopi is the agency tasked with administering the system, which started sending out initial warnings in October 2010, and since then has provided statistics on how many first, second and third strikes there have been.
However, next week’s report will be the first for a recording label supported study that claims users are swapping filesharing for paid methods of downloading media content.
It will apparently show that during the last 18 months Hadopi has led to a 22.5 per cent increase in purchases from Itunes and an extra €13.8m for the French market.
With the UK’s Digital Economy Act coming into effect later this year, UK authorities will be sure to be watching closely, as they also want to use the ‘three strikes’ approach.
In addition to faster browser rendering, the free update lets users type via voice and includes a Data Manager tool for monitoring and controlling network data usage, something seen as especially helpful to reviewers of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone running Ice Cream Sandwich, also called Android 4.0.
Motorola called it the first tablet of its kind to receive the upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich, though the update for the Asus Transformer Prime tablet was distributed a week ago, as several bloggers, including Slashgear noticed.
Bloggers and XDA-Developers theorized that the Asus tablet is more of an Ice Cream Sandwich reference platform, while Xoom is seen as a Honeycomb reference tablet for developers. The XDA-Developers’ site went dark on Wednesday, joining other sites in opposition to the federal Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) legislation.
Both tablets had been running Android Honeycomb, also known as Android 3.0.
The Xoom update is officially called IML77.
Motorola posted a list of new features, including a new typeface called Roboto.
From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, Firefox’s default home page — essentially a search field for Google — will change from its usual white background with the Firefox logo to a blacked-out version displaying a modified graphic emblazoned with “Stop Censorship.”
Meanwhile, the English language versions of Mozilla’s sites – mozilla.com andmozilla.org — will redirect visitors to an ”action page” asking for their support in stopping what it called “Internet blacklist legislation.”
Mozilla and an estimated 7,000 other sites, including Google, Wikipedia and Reddit, went on a “virtual strike” today to voice their opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), legislation being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, respectively.
Some of the sites went completely dark – Wikipedia blocked its English content, replacing it with an anti-SOPA/PIPA call to arms — but others, like Mozilla, used milder methods. Google, for example, placed a black rectangle over the area where it normally positions its logo or specialty “doodles.”
Although SOPA and PIPA are designed to make it easier for U.S. copyright holders to retaliate against foreign websites that distribute pirated movies, music and software, opponents have argued that if they are made law, the bills will give content owners enough leverage to censor domestic websites.
Mozilla was one of nine companies that jointly signed a letter (download PDF) last November to key members of Congress, saying that SOPA and PIPA “pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation’s cybersecurity.”
Approximately 1 out of 4 Internet users rely on Firefox to access the Internet, according to statistics from metrics firm Net Applications.
Wikipedia, the popular community-edited online encyclopedia, will black out its English-language site for an entire day to seek support against proposed U.S. anti-piracy legislation that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said threatens the future of the Internet.
The service will be the highest profile name to join a growing campaign starting at midnight Eastern Time on Wednesday that will see it black out its page so that visitors will only see information about the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
The information will urge Wikipedia readers to contact their local congressman to vote against the bills. Other smaller sites leading the campaign include Reddit.com and Cheezeburger.
“This is a quite clumsily drafted legislation which is dangerous for an open Internet,” said Wales in an interview.
The decision to black out the site was decided by voting within the Wikipedia community of writers and editors who manage the free service, Wales said. The English language Wikipedia receives more than 25 million average daily visitors from around the world, according to comScore data.
The bills pit technology companies like Google Inc and Facebook against the bill’s supporters, including Hollywood studios and music labels, which say the legislation is needed to protect intellectual property and jobs.
The SOPA legislation under consideration in the House of Representatives aims to crack down on online sales of pirated American movies, music or other goods by forcing Internet companies to block access to foreign sites offering material that violates U.S. copyright laws. Supporters argue the bill is unlikely to have an impact on U.S.-based websites.
The Chaos Computer Club wants to create a censorship free internet by sticking its own satillites in space. Hackers at the Chaos Computer Club’s Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin proposed an initiative called the Hackerspace Global Grid (HGG), which aims to create and freely make available satellite based communication.
The group also says it wants to stick a hacker on the moon in 23 years, but their first goal is to deal with threats to the Internet like the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), by creating an “uncensorable Internet in space.” The project builds off of an earlier idea by Nick Farr in August for a Hacker Space Program.Armin Bauer is working on the communications infrastructure for the project with his team.
His background is with the Constellation platform that uses Internet-connected computers for aerospace related research. It is developing an idea for a network of low-cost ground stations for when the project gets low-orbit satellites up there. The stations would be there to pinpoint satellites and facilitate sending data back to earth.
Not sure where they will get the satellites from.
In a post on its blog, fellow domain registrar Namecheap reports that customers trying to transfer their domains away from GoDaddy are being delayed. The post accuses GoDaddy of “returning incomplete WHOIS information” as a part of the transfer process, a practice which is against the rules of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the process manager for the domain-name system.
“We suspect that this competitor is thwarting efforts to transfer domains away from them,” writes Namecheap Community Manager Tamar Weinberg in the blog post. “We at Namecheap believe that this action speaks volumes about the impact that informed customers are having on GoDaddy’s business.”
Ross Rader, general manager of Hover, another domain-registration company, said he couldn’t confirm Namecheap’s accusations. “I have no information other than what each has published and transfers are flowing freely over here,” he tweeted.
GoDaddy has been a magnet for controversy. Most recently, it received withering criticism for supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act, then backtracked and pulled its support. The company’s sexually suggestive commercials haven’t helped, nor has the widely reported recreational elephant hunting of its CEO. The company has also been accused before of delaying Whois updates in violation of ICANN policies.
As a result, there’s been a campaign online to encourage users to take their business elsewhere. Macworld even posted a guide to transferring your domain-name service earlier this month.
GoDaddy has not replied to request to comment regarding Namcheap’s accusation.
Negative feedback about SOPA from a number of customers forced GoDaddy to take a second look at the legislation, said Warren Adelman, Go Daddy’s newly appointed CEO. Go Daddy has concerns about the free speech and Internet security implications of the legislation, but until now, has worked with lawmakers to address those issues, he said.
“It’s clear to us the bill’s not ready in its current form,” Adelman said Friday. “Looking at this over the last 20 hours, we’re not seeing consensus in the Internet community, we’re hearing the feedback from our customers.”
On Thursday, Reddit user selfprodigy said he was pulling 51 domain names from GoDaddy because of the registrar’s support of SOPA. The same day, Ben Huh, CEO of the Cheezburger family of humor websites said said his company would move its 1,000-plus domains off Go Daddy unless it dropped its support for the bill, known as SOPA.
On Friday, Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales also threatened to move from Go Daddy. “Their position on SOPA is unacceptable to us,” Wales said in a tweet.
Feedback from customers was a huge reason GoDaddy switched its position, said Adelman, formerly president and COO at the registrar. “As a company, one of our core values is listening and taking care of our customers,” he said.
In April, GoDaddy General Counsel Christine Jones told lawmakers that the company would support efforts that required DNS blocking as a way to strike at foreign websites that infringe U.S. copyrights. As of Friday, Jones has removed posts at GoDaddy.com describing the company’s support of provisions in SOPA.
SOPA still has strong support in Congress and among companies in several U.S. industries. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the driving forces behind the bill, has said that more than 400 organizations have voiced support.