Reports are coming in that the government in Malaysia has ordered the immediate suspension of many BitTorrent trackers hosted in the country. In a shock move, the government – citing the ‘Copyright Act 1987′ – has ordered hosts to suspend servers hosting BitTorrent sites, pending an investigation. Many sites are offline.
When BitTorrent sites get into legal trouble or other pressures force a move to a new location, the speculation begins on the safest place to go.
For instance, would a site bail out of the Netherlands and move to Canada? Is Canada too dangerous now, and would a move to Sweden be more appropriate? What about moving to Ukraine-based hosting like Demonoid or further afield – China or Russia maybe? Inevitably, discussions usually involve ideas of moving sites east, to countries like Malaysia. Fairly high-tech countries like this seem an attractive proposition, particularly given their government’s track-record in failing to do much about piracy.
Given this background, BitTorrent tracker admins with their sites hosted in Malaysia were confronted by a very unpleasant surprise today. An administrator from a well known tracker contacted TorrentFreak this morning with worrying news, he told us: “Malaysia’s government suddenly forced all torrent websites to shut down today until further notice, a complete surprise to torrent admins and the offshore hosting companies in Malaysia.”
The news was given to this and other site admins, via an email from their hosting provider, which indicates the action has been ordered down from a high level. The email informs the admins that their servers have been suspended by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, under the Copyright Act 1987. As the request came from the government, the host makes it clear they had no choice but to shut down the site. Among the affected sites are Extremebits, Rapthe, Superfundo and several others. According to sources, although torrent sites have been taken offline, other sites dealing in pirate material have also been suspended after the government decided to act on mounting copyright-related complaints.
Prominent Malaysian host Shinjiru confirmed the closures, telling TorrentFreak: “We can confirm that this is accurate. We had enforcement officers from MDTCA visiting the office to confirm the closure of BitTorrent sites hosted on our network. We will comply to all shut down instructions from the local authorities or agencies with warrants or documents.”
Update: Contrary to comments from a site admin, sources close to the situation are saying the shutdowns are limited to a small number of sites and aren’t necessarily part of a wider crackdown, despite government involvement.