ISPs Request Records to Show How Piracy Fight Blocked Legitimate Sites

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Internet anti-piracy system 'Piracy Shield' has been fully operational for less than a month and has already managed to block large numbers of legitimate platforms. Last Saturday saw the most significant blunder, yet official explanations are notable only by their absence. In a letter to AGCOM dated Monday, ISP association ASSOProvider calls on the telecoms regulator to release specific documents to show what has been blocked since February 1, and effectively, who issued the order to block Cloudflare - and why..

italy-blackoutWhen attempting to block pirated content online, there is always a significant risk that legitimate content will be blocked too.

Proponents of a tough new law in Italy that granted significant powers to rapidly block sites, waved away such concerns last year. However, after less than a month in full operation, the Piracy Shield system made its biggest blunder thus far last Saturday. Rather than opt for a surgical strike, someone rolled out a blunderbuss.

It Could Never Happen…

IP address belongs to Cloudflare and is used by many sites, including legitimate ones, so shouldn’t have been targeted at all. However, when that IP was blocked by Italy’s ISPs, under orders of telecoms regulator AGCOM, just 15 minutes later the effect was significant.


From people whose innocent sites were rendered inaccessible, to networking experts, ISPs, and regular Italian internet users, all want to know why this happened, why it was allowed to happen, and how something similar will be prevented moving forward.

As far as we’re aware, no official comments from AGCOM, rightsholders, or indeed anyone responsible for the blunder have even mentioned it in public, let alone that they provided an explanation.

ASSOProvider Files Access to Information Request

In a letter dated Monday seen by TorrentFreak, independent ISP association ASSOProvider calls on AGCOM to grant access to information under relevant law.

“According to these resolutions, anyone with a personal and concrete interest in the protection of legally relevant situations may exercise the right of access to documents held by the Authority by sending a written and reasoned request. The person in charge of the procedure shall do so within 30 days and inform the Council,” the letter reads.

To illustrate the association’s legitimate interest, the letter lays out ASSOProvider’s participation in working groups related to the law introduced last year, and the legal appeal it subsequently filed to protest its site-blocking provisions. The association further notes that its own members are impacted by the actions of the Piracy Shield system since they’re required to use it.

“As of February 1, 2024, the Piracy Shield platform for combating piracy is active. Moreover, among ASSOprovider’s Associates, there are providers affected by the activities put in place by the Piracy Shield platform as they are members of the same platform, and also in this way the Association makes this petition,” the letter continues.

Legitimate Request For Data Relating to Two Events

ASSOProvider’s request seeks data connected to two reported overblocking events. The first, against IP addresses belonging to Zenlayer CDN, with the second relating to last weekend’s blocking of the Cloudflare IP address. Since there have been suggestions that ISPs could find themselves targeted with legal claims related to unlawful blocking, having AGCOM hand over relevant records is a reasonable request.

“It is therefore in the interest of the Association, engaged on the judicial front and for its own and its members’ protection, to know the acts and documents that gave rise to these inhibitions,” the letter continues.

Information Requested

ASSOProvider requests access to the following documents:

• The list of FQDN domain names and IP addresses submitted to Piracy Shield from February 1, 2024, to date.
• Specifically, all documents related to IP blocking issued, communicated and implemented, on Feb. 14, 15 and 24.
• The reports and all documents received from rights holders that resulted in blocking tickets on the same dates.
• The notice sent by AGCOM to the owner of the officially targeted site.
• Copies of blocking tickets sent to the Piracy Shield platform on Feb. 14, 15 and 24.
• Copies of blocking revocation tickets sent on the same days.

Given that AGCOM hasn’t yet released domain and IP address information on its website to allow relevant parties to appeal against blocking instructions, it will be interesting to see its response to this official request. The request seeks significantly more information than AGCOM has provided thus far, including that which AGCOM is required to publish.

Official Declarations Fail to Indicate Scale of Blocking

The table below shows the bare details of information released thus far, plus information that should be declared relating to post-order blocking, but to date has not. AGCOM may provide additional details at a later date but since that information is available the moment domains and IP addresses are blocked, providing them quickly shouldn’t be an issue.

AGCOM-Blocking to 240221-image

The big question is how the above table translates to the actual number of domains and IP addresses blocked.

Information made available to TorrentFreak shows that from February 1 to last week (not including events last weekend), over 1,200 IP addresses have been blocked by Piracy Shield. The volume of domain names, which includes subdomains, is considerably larger, well over 1,600.

We understand that the law does not specify or recognize unblocking of domains or IP addresses and no system is in place to remove blocks that are out of date. Cursory tests show that some IP addresses on the list no longer facilitate access to pirate services, assuming that was initially the case.


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