Recent attempts from the Italian authorities to crack down on one of the largest torrent sites on the Internet have backfired.
When BTjunkie was censored in Italy earlier this year, the site’s owner quickly launched a proxy site at the domain proxyitalia.com. The site is a general purpose proxy service which allows Italians to browse the Internet from a foreign IP-address, including blocked sites such as BTjunkie and The Pirate Bay.
Although there are thousands of sites like this, the Italian authorities classified proxyitalia.com as illegal. A few days ago the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), the police division tasked with cybercrime cases, took the proxy site offline after a request from Cagliari deputy prosecutor Giangiacomo Pilia.
But BTjunkie isn’t going to cave in this fast. After being censored again BTjunkie’s owners launched a new proxy service, but one with a twist. Instead of hosting the proxy on its own domain and servers, BTjunkie is now using Google’s services.
“The Italian police have taken freedom of speech censorship to a new low with the blocking of a general purpose proxy. As strong advocates of freedom of speech and open Internet, we feel an overwhelming duty to teach the Italian police a proper lesson on how futile their attempts to silence these fundamental freedoms are,” BTjunkie’s owner explains to TorrentFreak.
“First we will spread the word to Italians on how to use a general purpose Google proxy. We will advertise this address on our website and e-mail over a half million registered Italians. Next we will launch a new e-mail notification tool to make it easier for even more Italians to stay up to date with new ways to circumvent any further blocks,” he added.
Indeed, it only took a few minutes to start a new proxy on Google’s services, and BTjunkie’s half million Italian members were quickly notified. Not exactly the result the Italian authorities were looking for.
BTjunkie’s owner, however, believes that it is his duty to stand up against what he feels is blatant censorship.
“As the police continue to push the line of Internet censorship, I hope that Italians wake up and take a stand for their right to communicate on the Internet. Because right now, Italian Internet policies are more like China’s then a Western democracy,” he said.
BTjunkie’s owner is not the only one who’s surprised by the far reaching actions of the Italian authorities. Several UK Internet providers have expressed their concerns over the recent censorship attempts in Italy.
“This demonstrates a concern with blocking in that it can be a slippery slope to censorship and blocking of legitimate sites,” TalkTalk’s Executive Director of Strategy and Regulation, Andrew Heaney said in a comment.
Moving to Google seems to limit the options for the Cagliari deputy prosecutor to crack down on the new proxy. Unless they want to take on Google, and even if they do we have a feeling that a new proxy will surface soon again. It’s a battle that can’t be won.
To quote John Gilmore once again: “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”