Authorities Raid Large Torrent Site Again…aaand it’s Back Online

With reported backing from an infamous anti-piracy group, the datacenter of one of Sweden's largest torrent sites was raided last week. The operators of Tankafetast were well prepared and the site was quickly back online delivering movies and TV shows from an international location. The episode is likely to be seen as an embarrassment to the authorities after efforts in 2012 and 2013 both failed to close the site.

There was a time when raiding a torrent site meant that it stayed down for good, but with 2014 just a couple of months old it’s clear that things have changed.

The latest signs relate to Tankafetast, Sweden’s #2 torrent site and the 95th most popular site in the country according to Alexa. The site, second only to The Pirate Bay, specializes in movies and TV shows and has been an anti-piracy target for some time. With a motto of “We shall never surrender!” one gets a flavor of how that’s gone so far.

On October 1, 2012, PRQ, a webhost previously owned by Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm, disappeared offline after Swedish police raided the facility. Many file-sharing sites went offline and it was later confirmed that Tankafetast was the prime target.

Just three weeks later it was back online, taunting the authorities and nemesis Henrik Pontén at copyright protection outfit Antipiratbyrån (Rights Alliance).

In April 2013 yet more action was taken against the site, with the arrest of one of the site’s admins. Yet again the site remained intact and online.

And now, according to the site’s operators, Rights Alliance and local authorities have had another go at shutting Tankafetast down.

“Once again, we fell victim to a Rights Alliance (Anti-Piracy Office) ploy to shut down TankaFetast! Our data centers have been raided,” the site’s operators report.

It appears that a continuing investigation led authorities to a location from where they believed Tankafetast was operating. While the raid last week may have unearthed something, the site was fully prepared for the event.

“Instead of sitting and waiting to see what the authorities want us to do we can move just anywhere to our other servers located abroad. Once again we will rise up again!” the site’s operators said.

And, a few initial problems aside, Tankafetast returned online this weekend. [Update: site has some stability issues]

“We’re going nowhere Rights Alliance, believe it!” the site declared.

Interestingly there was no announcement of action against Tankafetast last week from Rights Alliance or the police. Both are usually fairly quick to inform the press of their achievements but there are no reports from either. TorrentFreak contacted lawyer Henrik Pontén for comment but we have received no response.

It is certainly possible that the raid on the Tankafetast datacenter was expected to fail. Last Thursday a site operator revealed that the 2012 raid on PRQ didn’t net the site, just a gateway.

“We had some old empty dusty boxes with PRQ a few years ago but that was merely a proxy. When police got them there was nothing left in them anyway, since the memory was cleared for the least outside risk,” he revealed.

While in the ‘old days’ torrent site admins simply crossed their fingers and perhaps wore garlic to fend off attacks, it’s becoming clear that these days site setups are being hardened in preparation for what many believe to be an increasingly likely event. But these systems cost money and that has to be made somehow. Intrusive advertising is one way, according to Tankafetast.

“It is precisely because of pop-under advertising that we have been able to have servers around the world. Here you get a really good example. When one goes down we just move to another. The advertising that many find annoying saves us in situations like this,” they conclude.

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