City Of London Police Arrest Creator Of Anti-Censorship Proxy Service Based On Hollywood's Say So

from the out-of-control dept

We’ve been covering the extreme and misinformed attempts by the City of London Police to become Hollywood’s personal police force online (despite only having jurisdiction for the one square mile known as the City of London). As we’ve noted, the City of London Police don’t seem to understand internet technology at all, nor do they have any jurisdiction to pull down websites. Yet, despite the total lack of a court order, many clueless registrars see letterhead from a police department and assume everything must be legit, even though this completely violates ICANN policy for domain registrars. Much of this is done in “partnership” with legacy players from the industry, who the police seem to listen to without any skepticism at all. It would be like the NYPD giving control of banking fraud investigations to Goldman Sachs.

As we were just pointing out, while the City of London Police seem to think it’s “obvious” what is and what is not a “pirate site”, oftentimes it’s not at all easy to figure that out. That was made clear last week when the organization helping the City of London Police reposted an entire BBC article about their cooperation (soon after our post went up, that company’s post disappeared quietly with no notice). And now, TorrentFreak is reporting the City of London Police have “seized” an open proxy service called Immunicity, that was set up as an anti-censorship tool. Not only that, but they’ve also arrested the operator. The site itself is engaged in no copyright infringement at all. But its entire website has been replaced thanks to a bogus claim by the City of London Police.

The police even seem to brag that they’re in the bag for the legacy entertainment companies:

According to Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe, the arrest is a prime example of a successful partnership between the copyright industry and local law enforcement.

?This week?s operation highlights how PIPCU, working in partnership with the creative and advertising industries is targeting every aspect of how copyrighting material is illegally being made available to internet users,? Fyfe says.

So, yes, it’s the police “partnering” with a legacy industry that has a long and demonstrated history of bogus attacks on new technologies that challenge its business model. And rather than actually view such claims with skepticism, the police lap it up and take down websites without anything even approaching a court order.

And to show just how confused they are, the main “industry” representative helping the police here basically admits to the belief that any proxy service must be illegal, because the industry doesn’t like it:

Commenting on the arrest, FACT Director Kieron Sharp argues that these proxy sites and services are just as illegal as the blocked sites themselves.

?Internet users have sought ways to continue to access the sites by getting round the blocking put in place by the ISPs. One of the ways to do this is to use proxy servers. This operation is a major step in tackling those providing such services,? Sharp notes.

Of course, based on that reasoning, the very same VPNs that many of us use to protect our internet surfing from surveillance would be equally considered “illegal.” Basically anything that challenges the business model of these legacy companies must be illegal and the City of London Police seem to think they can arrest those associated with them. Talk about going way overboard and creating massive chilling effects…

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Comments on “City Of London Police Arrest Creator Of Anti-Censorship Proxy Service Based On Hollywood's Say So”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

IANAL, bu AIUI police jurisdiction is based on the location of the principal crime not the location of the perpetrator. Usually local police will arrest a suspect for whom a warrant or APB has been issued, and will supply the necessary wooden-tops, armed response, etc., but any constable can arrest anywhere for a crime within his jurisdiction. A constable out of his jurisdiction has no power to go looking for trouble beyond that of an ordinary citizen, apart from specially limited circumstances.

observer says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I know what you mean. It didn’t get anywhere near the attention it should have, perhaps because the CLP weren’t flexing their muscles at the rest of the country back then. It deserves to be wheeled out every time they’re in the news. Anyone tries to tell you that they value morality or the rule of law over money, well, there’s your proof that they don’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

What makes a complete mockery and joke of these site blocks and show just how completely stupid and useless they are by the likes of the BPI etc. in the UK is that only 6 ISP’s in the UK are subject to block these sites by being subject to the court order. Wheras ALL the other ISP’s in the UK are not subject to the court order blocking sites and do NOT block these sites at all.

If accessing these sites were illegal then blocking access to these sites should be implented by every ISP in the UK and not just by a few them. It cannot be illegal to access these sites if there are still ISP’s in the UK that does not block access to them and so accessing these sites cannot therefor be illegal.

Only a stupid fool would block access to the front of a building in stopping people from gaining access to the building but leaves the side and back entrances of that building free to still allow people to access the building.

observer says:

Re: Re:

“Wheras ALL the other ISP’s in the UK are not subject to the court order blocking sites and do NOT block these sites at all.”

In particular, the court orders aren’t binding on anyone other than the ISPs in question. Including VPN and proxy operators and end users. You’re not breaching the order by accessing a blocked site, nor is any VPN or proxy you’re using to do so.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

However, there is potential that aiding people who use those ISPs to get around the block may be a problem. Doing so intentionally and with knowledge of those blocks may be the issue here.

What I think the bigger issue here is how the internet will be policed in the long run. The internet cannot be left as a lawless alternate universe, that would essentially destroy public order over time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

” aiding people who use those ISPs to get around the block may be a problem. “


BT is my ISP so direct access to TPB is “blocked”. However under UK law TPB is considered perfectly so no crime is being committed in me accessing it. Neither is a crime being committed by helping me to access it.

So the only issue exists in why the media cartels have been allowed to get these sites “blocked” in the first place.

(I keep using “” around blocked because the blocks are completely futile when used against a half competent torrent user)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It completely bugs me as to why ONLY some ISP’s here in the UK block access to these illegal sites when the other ISP’s don’t block access to the same sites.

If these sites were illegal then access to these sites should/would have applied for all the ISP’s in the UK to block access them.

By blocking access to some sites by some ISP’s and allowing other ISP’s to continue to allow access to the same sites is nothing but censorship and discrimanation in my book and that accessing these sites is NOT illegal whilst there are ISP’s that continue to allow access to these sites.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

When people make that claim about the internet, their issue isn’t that the internet ‘has no laws'(it does, based upon the location of the servers/service in question), it’s that it doesn’t follow the ‘laws’ that they want it to, like ‘forced secondary/tertiary liability’ and ‘every company on the planet, except the ones who’s responsibility it actually is, need to become copyright cops.’

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“However, there is potential that aiding people who use those ISPs to get around the block may be a problem.

Why? Come on, stop stating your half-considered opinions as if they were facts and start explaining yourself.

“What I think the bigger issue here is how the internet will be policed in the long run.”

OK, then who do you think should be in charge. Do you support a small police force under the direction of a group of foreign corporations doing that policing in areas outside of their jurisdiction, or do you have enough of a shred of honesty left to admit that this is a problem?

Anonymous Coward says:

i hope the person concerned with Immunicity, fights whatever hw is going to be charged with. i read where he has handed the domain over. i dont know if that is true or not. i hope it isn’t because neither FACT or the City of London Police have the right to take that domain or demand that it is handed over. as far as i am aware, having and operating proxies in the UK is NOT illegal! i am waiting to read what the charges are against this person and hope he takes the accusers to court! the problem, which is one the police and the copyright industries and their henchmen are fully aware is the lack of finance to mount any defense!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Unless the judge deems him a danger he can be released while the Crown Prosecution Service decides to press charges. Depending on their workload, the seriousness of the alleged offence, the colour of the moonbeams today etc that may be a short time or a long time. Where short and long are about the same length as pirces of string. If they decide to charge him he will be requested to show up at a police station to be charged or he can do a runner and another warrant will be issued to bring him in. When he’s charged he can appear to request bail and it may or may not be granted.

Violated (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

As he was arrested then so was he bailed while they continue their investigation maybe leading to a [doubtful] trial.

The interesting part is what he was arrested for when to be a lawful arrest they have to believe he has committed a crime. We don’t know the full details of course but from what we can publicly see he did nothing unlawful.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: outside of their 1 square mile

There isn’t a lot of choice – the Home Office can cut off their funding to the various police forces (other than the BTP, MOD Police, etc., who are funded by other departments) and sack the police commissioners, requiring the counties to fund the police entirely themselves (which they can’t afford, especially since they have very limited ability to raise revenue) and find suitable commissioners which the Home Office will accept.

Digger says:

Yo - City of London Police - Wake the fuck up

You’re criminals now – yes, that’s right, you, the police are criminals stealing perfectly legal websites and equipment.

The copyright industry is one of the biggest bunch of U.S. Rico act violators in the world – they purposely lie to law enforcement around the globe. They publish known false data to support their lies – ie they lie to cover their lies which were lied about to cover other lies.

You yahoos are ignorant fucks that couldn’t think your way out of a wet and decayed paper bag for falling for their outright lies and greed.

So – good job becoming the criminals here – hope you enjoy being Bobby’s butt buddy in prison when you’re all arrested and thrown in jail.

quayph says:


how do they charge bail without charging him for a crime? In the US, bail rates are set based on the type and severity of the alleged crime.

In the UK you don’t pay any money to get bail, either you’re considered safe and it’s granted – you can leave, or you’re thought to be dangerous / a flight risk – it’s not granted and you stay in the cells.

Anonymous Coward says:

All VPN sevices have to do if this becomes a problem is cancel servers in UK datacenters and no longer have servers in Britain.

It would mean no longer having access, outside Britain to things like iPlayer, or online streams of British radio stations, but it will also shield them from prosecution in Britan.

A website owner outside Britain that has no servers in Britan, and no sssetts in Britain is NOT SUBJECT to Britiah law.

There is one VPN company run by a Chinese citizen living in China. That means he would be ONLY subject to CHINESE laws and IS NOT SUBJECT to arrest or prosecution in Britain, if he were to remove all his servers from datacenters he currently has in the UK.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A website owner outside Britain that has no servers in Britan, and no sssetts in Britain is NOT SUBJECT to Britiah law.

That is not entirely true or established. If the company is actively offering service in the UK, and soliciting business in the UK, then they could very well be subject to UK law. It might be mind numbing hard to extradite someone, but moves to make the business unprofitable or unavailable in the UK could be taken.

Being offshore is no clear protection if you offer services in a country.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

In that case the UK has three choices two legal and one not.

1. Request cooperation from the sovereign nation where the individual is located and hope that it is granted. (legal)

2. Try to capture the individual by force violating the nations sovereignty. (illegal)

3. Bitch about it. (legal)

Jon Jones (profile) says:

“the City of London Police ….. (despite only having jurisdiction for the one square mile known as the City of London)”

It doesn’t work like that in the UK. All UK police officers have full jurisdiction and legal powers in the whole of the UK. UK police forces are not just responsible for a certain area. Just because a force is based in one area doesn’t mean anything changes when elsewhere in the UK.

GEMont (profile) says:

Progress is a relative concept

Amazing how well this test project is working out for the crooks, in their relentless effort to turn the internet into their own advertising tool and stop its use as a public communications system.

So far, they’ve been able to do whatever they want and not one action has been challenged legally.

That’s pretty damn impressive PR graft work.

Pretty soon they’ll have a bag of precedent procedures they can export to the US and elsewhere, for inclusion in laws that will end forever the horror of the Free Internet.

Another success story for the forces of Fascism!

There is no escaping the Grand Aquisition!!

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Progress is a relative concept

By “challenged legally” I was referring to the government and the courts challenging the legal right of the City Of London Police to do whatever they desired, rather than their victims challenging the CoLPolice’s apparently unauthorized actions.

I would assume that most the victims of these quasi-legal actions by CoLPolice would disagree with the actions do whatever they could to circumvent the restrictions being applied.

In the cases where victims have brought these actions by the CoLPolice to the courts’ attention, have the courts generally sided with the victims or with the CoLPolice?

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: City streets

“Why isnt the city of london police seizing the city streets…”

Well, that’s still illegal…

Besides, Hollywood isn’t paying the City of London Police to clean up the streets of London, prevent crime, or arrest criminals.

Its only paying the CoL low-cost rental pigs to destroy as many of the web-sites Hollywood dislikes, as fast as possible, before legislation makes such activities illegal again.

I suppose if some other organized crime… er… organization was to offer the easily-purchased LEOs of the City Of London Police Force, money under the table to arrest druggies off the streets of London, that they probably would do so… in their spare time.

But it would have to be a big graft offer like the one that Hollywood is giving them currently, or better. Gotta think about retirement and all that you know.

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