Proposals published as a part of the Queen’s speech, which kicks off the start of the new parliamentary year in the UK, confirmed that the government has been in contact with Internet providers and is still considering passing new legislation which bears similarity to the draft Communications Data Bill (CDB) published last year.”The Government is committed to ensuring that law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to protect the public and ensure national security,” Downing Street stated in a briefing note published alongside the speech.”Communications data helps to keep the public safe: it is used by the police to investigate crimes, bring offenders to justice and save lives.”The speech noted that the problem of matching Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to people would be met with government proposals which would both enable “the protection of the public and the investigation of crime in cyberspace.””The government is looking at ways of addressing this issue with computer service providers. It may involve legislation,” the proposals state.The issue at hand refers to collating any given IP address with a specific individual using it, or in the case of Internet service providers who use the same IP address for more than one customer, identifying the correct user, Ben Woods from ZDNet reports.Currently, British security services have the power to both identify and locate who has made a telephone call or sent a text message. However, Internet communications such as emails, instant messages, and Skype are identified and stored by their IP address as opposed to individual users.The draft CDB would have required Internet service providers to store web browsing history, details of messages sent over social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter and voice calls made over the web. The legislation stipulated that this information would be retained for a year, with police being empowered to access it without first asking permission if they are currently investigating a crime. Downing Street was quick to assuage public fears, claiming the new proposal “is not about indiscriminately accessing internet data of innocent members of the public, it is about ensuring that police and other law enforcement agencies have the powers they need to investigate the activities of criminals that take place online as well as offline.”In April, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg claimed ‘the snoopers’ charter’ would not pass as long as his party was a part of the coalition government.”In other words the idea that the government will pass a law which means there will be a record kept of every website you visit, who you communicate with on social media sites, that’s not going to happen.”"It’s certainly not going to happen with Liberal Democrats in government,” Clegg vowed. However, Clegg has already shown a willingness to accept a watered down version of the initial draft, having agreed to the language in the Downing Street briefing note published alongside the Queen’s speech along with Prime Minister David Cameron.Home Secretary Theresa May for her part still hopes to revive the bill in its totality, having long insisted the measures are necessary for police to keep pace with terrorists, major criminals and paedophiles in the digital age.While May has long insisted that CDB proposals did not amount to snooping, Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, said the law by its very definition is about tracking innocent citizens.”It doesn’t matter what they intend to use the law for. Tracking the conversations of people who are not under suspicion of a crime is itself criminal, end of story. It doesn’t matter how noble your goals are,” Falkvinge argues.He believes the mass degradation of civil liberties is a matter of utility, as UK authorities would rather take a shotgun approach to surveillance rather than systematically identify and target those suspected of crimes. “We have observed the surveillance state remove the requirements for a warrant to wiretap people. Apparently, it’s now too inefficient to violate people’s privacy one by one, so legislators would rather violate everybody’s privacy all the time instead. It’s like 1984, only worse,” Falkvinge continued. …
To protect themselves against excessive monitoring, security exploits and ISP throttling, many BitTorrent users have taken an interest in anonymizing services such as VPNs and proxies.
Not surprisingly, providers of such services are eager to advertise their products to this ‘niche’ group. Many VPN providers are buying ads through Google and other ad-networks, but there is a more direct method.
Last year BitTorrent Inc. added advertisements to its uTorrent and BitTorrent clients, which cater to over 150 million monthly users. The owner of VPN and proxy provider TorGuard therefore made inquiries to the San-Francisco based company to learn more about advertising opportunities, but he was in for a surprise.
In a phone conversation the Vice President of advertising at BitTorrent Inc. told TorGuard that his brand was not a good match since it’s categorized as “high risk.” According to BitTorrent, TorGuard is seen as a service that promotes the use of torrents, which is apparently not allowed.
To find out what is wrong with his service, TorGuard agreed to an extensive review by BitTorrent Inc’s legal team and late last week the final verdict came in. The VPN provider is welcome to advertise with BitTorrent, but not before all torrent related references are removed.
To be accepted, TorGuard has to remove the “tor” from its brand name and website URL, because this directly relates to torrents. In addition, all images even remotely relating to BitTorrent or torrents in general have to go. And it doesn’t stop there.
“Any text content containing the words ‘BitTorrent’,’utorrent’ or ‘torrent’ would also need to be removed. This would of course include landing pages, knowledge base articles, forum/blog posts, and more,” TorGuard’s Ben Van Pelt tells TorrentFreak.
The long list of demands is a bit much for TorGuard’s owner, who is baffled by the entire ordeal.
“Needless to say, we won’t be censoring any of these concerns and will continue to pursue other advertisement initiatives,” Van Pelt says.
“We’ve worked with some of the biggest names in marketing like Google, Cnet and Bing, but never expected censorship requests of this extent from the likes of BitTorrent. It really is wildly ironic,” TorGuard’s owner adds.
The question that remains is why BitTorrent doesn’t want to work with BitTorrent-friendly VPN and proxy services. After all, both the uTorrent and BitTorrent clients have built-in support for proxy connections. And like BitTorrent, VPNs and proxies are nothing more than a technology.
Before the weekend TorrentFreak asked BitTorrent Inc. for a comment on their rules and regulations regarding VPN advertisements, but we have yet to receive a response.
The irony of the situation is amplified by BitTorrent Inc’s ongoing attempts to distance itself from everything piracy related. Deals with content partners are hard to get when people associate your company with illegal downloading, and time and time again the company has been forced to explain that there are plenty of legitimate uses for BitTorrent.
However, BitTorrent now appears to be doing the same to TorGuard.
TorGuard’s owner tells TorrentFreak that he understands that BitTorrent is protecting its brand, but he disagrees with the way the company is going about it. He was willing to make a few changes here and there, but completely banning all references to torrents, suggesting these are somehow evil, is simply not an option.
“To me, the name ‘TorGuard’ first represents anonymity, overcoming censorship and encryption, before it has anything to do with BitTorrent,” Van Pelt concludes.
Source: uTorrent and BitTorrent Reject “High Risk” VPN Ads
NEW YORK (AP) — Media companies benefited from higher fees for cable television networks such as TBS, Comedy Central and CNBC in the first three months of the year.Time Warner Inc., Viacom Inc. and Comcast Corp. all saw growth in their cable network businesses, thanks to distribution fees they charge cable and satellite TV service providers for rights to carry their channels on subscribers’ lineups. Those fees get passed on to customers of cable and satellite service.The boost in television helped make up for weakness at two of the three movie studios that reported results Wednesday.The trends show how important such fees have become to the television industry. Revenue at Time Warner’s television business grew, even with a decrease in ad revenue. Even broadcast networks such as CBS are increasingly relying on distribution fees to ride out fluctuations in the ad market.The fees have become so vital that broadcasters are worried about the threat posed by a Barry Diller-backed startup called Aereo. The company sends over-the-air broadcasts over the Internet and bypasses traditional cable and satellite operators. Disputes over the fees have also led to high-profile blackouts of channels on cable and satellite lineups.Continue Reading… …
A growing number of mobile users are turning to chat apps to communicate with friends and family, shunning text messaging plans that once served as major cash cows for wireless providers. Daily traffic from services like iMessage, BlackBerry Messenger and WhatsApp – classified as over-the-top (OTT) messaging services – has… …
Two videos published Sunday and Monday by the anti-abortion group Live Action purport to show later-term abortion providers Washington Surgi-Clinic and Dr. Emily Women’s Health Center in the Bronx. The videos depict one provider and several clinic counselors discussing the procedures of a late-term…
After years of negotiating and planning the U.S. “six strikes” system finally went live in February.
The Copyright Alert System follows the example of French three-strikes law Hadopi, with the difference that Internet providers cooperate voluntarily and repeat infringers aren’t at risk of lengthy Internet disconnections.
The ultimate goal of these programs is to decrease P2P piracy but thus far very little is known about their effectiveness. About a year ago a study was released which showed that iTunes sales were positively impacted by Hadopi. An odd result, mainly because the effect seemingly occurred in 2009, before the law went into effect.
When the study was published we pointed out that there are alternative explanations for the findings. In addition, looking at overall digital revenues from 2008 to 2009, we see that there was actually a decrease in France, while digital revenue was up in nearly all of the comparison countries used in the study.
TorrentFreak contacted researcher Brett Danaher who conducted the Hadopi research and was also involved in the recent study which showed the Megaupload shutdown positively impacted movie sales. Danaher says that he stands behind the results but is open to exploring the effects of Hadopi on other products.
“I believe that the data demonstrates that HADOPI causally increased music sales on iTunes in France. But I’m interested in figuring out to what degree we can or cannot generalize this to other sales channels, music products, or forms of media, and I think careful research is needed to tease this out,” Danaher says.
Music group IFPI also believes that a decrease in overall sales says little about the effectiveness of the French three-strikes law. IFPI spokesman Alex Jacob told us that there are several indicators which show that P2P music piracy is negatively impacted in France.
“Regarding Hadopi, data shows that the legislation has had a significant impact in reducing P2P piracy levels in France. Looking at the period between the introduction of the law in 2010 and February 2013, the number of people engaging in unlicensed P2P file-sharing fell by 22 per cent,” IFPI says.
That does indeed sound convincing, but the figure is lacking a direct connection with Hadopi and the decrease is not unique to France. For example, earlier this year the research group NPD reported that P2P music sharing fell 17% in the U.S. from 2011 to 2012, long before the six-strikes program started.
While it makes sense that Hadopi and similar measures deter piracy to a certain degree, the overall impact on entertainment industry revenues remains guesswork. The issue is complicated by the fact that non-P2P piracy remains untargeted. According to IFPI these alternatives have increased in popularity.
“While Hadopi addressed P2P file-sharing, it did not tackle all forms of digital piracy, such as cyberlockers and stream-ripping services, which saw their audience numbers grow over the same period,” IFPI tells TorrentFreak.
This suggests that some P2P sharers may respond to “strikes” programs by switching to other means of sharing. In addition, we have seen a drastic rise in the use of VPN services through which P2P sharers can avoid being tracked.
Nonetheless, IFPI is positive about the effect Hadopi has on sales as shown in the iTunes study, as well as the decline in P2P usage. According to Jacob, music industry revenues in France have declined over the years, but not as far as in other European countries.
“We know from the indicators we have that Hadopi has helped reduce P2P file-sharing and helped boost download sales, even if this is not yet been reflected in overall growth for the French market,” he says.
“The logical conclusion is that the French market today, although not yet seeing growth, is in a better position than it would be in the absence of the Hadopi legislation.”
Right now all eyes are on the U.S. Copyright Alert System. Several researchers are gearing up to look at the effect it has on revenues and the prevalence of P2P use. If the evaluations are positive we can expect that the “strikes” measures will serve as a model for other countries, voluntarily or not.
Source: Do “Strikes” Programs Help to Reduce Piracy?