UK Internet provider Sky Broadband has quietly started to restrict access to a wide range of proxy sites through which subscribers could reach The Pirate Bat, Kat.ph, Movie2k and other blocked sites. The new blockades go beyond the initial court orders and appear to adjust automatically to IP-address changes. TorrentFreak talked to several proxy site operators who are determined to bypass the new measures.
Following a High Court ruling
in March, six UK ISPs were required to block subscriber access to three of the world’s largest torrent sites, Kat.ph, H33T and Fenopy.
The legal action was initiated by the music industry group BPI on behalf of a variety of major labels who previously won a similar case
regarding The Pirate Bay. The movie studios also successfully targeted other infringing sites, as illustrated by the recent blockade of Movie2K
While the court rulings in these cases are public, the actual blocklists are not. We do know that one list of prohibited domains is maintained
by the music industry group BPI, who have the freedom to add new entries when sites move to new domains or IP-addresses.
As of last week, however, Sky Broadband appears to have updated its blocking measures with several new domains that go beyond the specific sites detailed in the initial court action. Before the weekend Sky subscribers started to notice that several proxy sites, which are meant to bypass the blockades, are not longer accessible.
The new Sky blockade restricts access to a wide variety of proxies including pirateproxy.net, fenopyreverse.info, h33tunblock.info, h33t.uk.to, kickassunblock.info, katproxy.com, movie2kproxy.com. In addition, torrentproxies.com, a site that offers a list of available proxy sites, is also rendered inaccessible.
Thus far it is unknown whether Sky is acting on its own or whether the new sites are part of a blocklist update sent out by BPI. The latter would mean that other ISPs will also start blocking these proxies in the near future.
Both Sky and the BPI were asked for a comment on the recent changes, but we have yet to receive a response.
TorrentFreak talked to the operator of pirateproxy.net
, the most visited proxy site in the UK, who is convinced that the new blockades are not an accident.
“I believe the blocks are intentional based on the specific list of sites they are blocking,” PirateProxy’s Drastik tells us.
Drastik says that the new blockades took him by surprise, but that they won’t work for long. PirateProxy is already working on a bypass and other proxy site owners are doing the same.
“I find the blocks to be a bold move since there are so many proxy sites and workarounds out there. If they do continue blocking proxy sites, it will be a cat and mouse game on a large scale,” he says.
The Pirate Reverse
team, who operate a series of proxies and the proxy list torrentproxies.com have also begun taking countermeasures. Among other things, they have released a tool
which allows subscribers to check which sites are being blocked by their ISP.
“We created the proxy block checker tool because it is difficult from our perspective to see what ISPs have blocked what sites, so the data that it provides is crucial if we are to implement workarounds and continue fighting censorship,” Pirate Reverse told us.
The user submitted results will help the Pirate Reverse team to roll out effective countermeasures.
“The end result is to analyse the data and use it to come up with better solutions, at the moment even though there are only a few results gathered we can see a pattern emerging in how the recent Sky blocks are implemented.”
Ironically, the block checker tool may not be all that effective as Sky has begun blocking that website too.
From the reports we received it appears that Sky’s new blocking mechanism is highly adaptive. Several proxies moved to new IP-addresses, only to find out that these were also added to the list in a matter of hours. Pirate Reverse is now trying to figure out a way to game this system.
“The system they are using is automated and queries our DNS to get our current IPs, then blocks them, however it removes previously blocked IPs that we are no longer using. We are testing an automated method of cycling through our IP addresses,” they say.
Perhaps we will soon see the first proxy sites that allow users to access proxy sites? In any case, the game of whack-a-mole continues.