A few days ago an Italian court ordered all ISPs to block subscriber access to BTjunkie, leaving hundreds of thousands of Italians with the task of finding a new torrent site. Or perhaps not? Just hours after the news was made public, a brand new and ad-free proxy site was launched. The site allows Italians to browse an uncensored web and access BTjunkie, as well as another popular blocked site, The Pirate Bay.
Last Thursday the public prosecutor of the Sardinian capital Cagliari ordered a nationwide blackout of BTjunkie. Italian ISPs have to block both the IP addresses of the site and its domain name as the BitTorrent site is an alleged hotbed for online piracy.
Last week’s actions are similar to an earlier Italian block of The Pirate Bay that was first ordered in 2008. After an appeal process of nearly two years, The Pirate Bay was eventually blocked both completely and permanently last year.
TorrentFreak spoke to the owner of BTjunkie who told us that he does not intent to appeal the court order. However, that doesn’t mean that Italian users wont be able to access the site anymore. As it turns out, with just one simple step Italians can have full access to BTjunkie again, as well as every other censored website.
Italian visitors whose ISPs have not yet implemented the block now see the following message.
“Attention Italians: BTjunkie will soon be blocked following an Italian judicial complaint. You can continue to access the site through proxyitalia.com/btjunkie.org”
A message to Italian BTjunkie users
Indeed, all BTjunkie users have to do to gain access to their favorite torrent site is update their bookmarks to use the proxy site. And this is not limited to BTjunkie either. The proxyitalia.com site works for The Pirate Bay as well, or any other site that may be blocked in the future.
BTjunkie’s action shows how futile web censorship is. Aside from updating one’s bookmarks to use the proxy URL, there are plenty of other ways to bypass the block. A particularly popular solution is signing up with a VPN service, which assigns users a foreign IP-address, lifting all local restrictions.
And the above is no secret to Italians.
As of today, hundreds of thousands of Italian BitTorrent users use The Pirate Bay website despite a nationwide censorship order. And even those who stop using The Pirate Bay can still choose from dozens of other large indexes to score their daily BitTorrent fix. Apparently, censorship is not the best solution for decreasing piracy.
Needless to say, the authorities are not too fond of the proxy sites that allows Italians to bypass their court orders. A proxy site that was setup in response to the Pirate Bay blockade was quickly pulled offline by the authorities last year, but ultimately they’re fighting a losing battle.
To add to this, shutting down proxyitalia.com will not be so easy as it’s a general purpose proxy. Unlike the Pirate Bay proxy site it can be used with all URLs, so if the authorities block the proxy site they might as well block the thousands of other proxy sites that exist on the Internet too.
As John Gilmore famously said: “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”
Perhaps, then, the only way to succeed is to shut the Internet down altogether.