UK Web Filtering Blocks Access To Website Of Europe's Largest And Oldest Hacking Community

from the always-broken...-always dept

The “Great Firewall of Britain” claims another victim. “Voluntary” (as in: under the threat of legislation) internet filtering by ISPs has blocked UK citizens from connecting to the website of one of the oldest computer hacking groups in existence.

Last Friday, Germany’s Chaos Computer Club posted this statement.

A significant portion of British citizens are currently blocked from accessing the Chaos Computer Club’s (CCC) website. On top of that, Vodafone customers are blocked from accessing the ticket sale to this year’s Chaos Communication Congress (31C3).

The post goes on to note that while these filters are faulty and suffer from overbroad content flagging, they can be easily bypassed simply by using the site’s IP address: 213.73.89.123. It also points out that this blockage could possibly be deliberate, rather than due to the inherent technical limitations of poorly-designed web filters.

However, it may very well be that the CCC is considered “extremist” judged by British standards of freedom of speech.

Could be. Governments tend to treat all hackers as criminals, no matter how much the standard definition deviates from government officials’ misconceptions. The Chaos Computer Club, despite being Europe’s largest hacker community, is not composed of criminals. But it has engaged in several acts that would make it less popular with various governments, including reverse engineering “lawful access” malware used by German law enforcement (which included installations on school computers), uncovering a government backdoor in Skype and filing a criminal complaint against the German government for its massive domestic surveillance programs.

As it stands now, it appears that only Three is currently blocking the main CCC website. The Open Rights Group’s “Blocked” website indicates that Virgin Media and Vodafone had both blocked the site until recently, but appear to have removed CCC from their blacklists on Nov. 27th and Dec. 8th, respectively.

Blocking the CCC is just another demonstration of how internet filters don’t work. The filter fails on multiple levels, going overboard with the blocking while simultaneously allowing users to bypass the system using nothing more than an IP address. The end result is the UK’s passive-aggressive filter-by-proxy, one that hangs the threat of regulatory legislation over the heads of ISPs while signing off on “will this do?” filtering.

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Comments on “UK Web Filtering Blocks Access To Website Of Europe's Largest And Oldest Hacking Community”

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26 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

the UK government is only interested in allowing the public to access sites that Cameron (think of the children, so lets block porn sites!) thinks they should be allowed to access. in other words the Great Firewall of Britain. what is so shity is that almost no porn sites have been blocked in relation to the number of sites having been blocked, with the majority being, as in other countries, file sharing sites! that means that the UK is doing just what Obama wants it to do so as to ensure the ‘special relationship’ doesn’t flag! well, not until shit hits fan over something, that is, then see the US government abandon the UK like rats jumping off a sinking ship!! and the UK deserves nothing else, when it continually slags off China, N.Korea, Teheran etc for their governments removal of freedom and privacy!! two faced ass wipes!!

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

… with the majority being, as in other countries, file sharing sites!

It should be mentioned that the censors did this to openbittorrent.com the other day too, with exactly the same result. Add “67.212.71.74 openbittorrent.com” to your /etc/hosts (YMMV) file, and the problem disappears.

“The Internet perceives censorship as damage, and routes around it.” Don’t anyone tell our guardians of truth and justice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Official Blackhall Press Release

We in the British government pondered long and hard about the best action to take. We wanted to show all the technically-illiterate population that we were serious about the dangers of the internet, while not actually impeding their access to websites exploiting their self-destructive vices. And, to avoid angering the technically-aware population, we chose to block the site most likely to be accessed only by people who would find it trivial to work around any possible blocks the second-rate hacks who work for the government could devise.

We believe that any reasonable observer will conclude that we found the optimum solution.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Not composed of criminals?

First off… seriously? The CCC is still around? I haven’t heard anything about them or their activities since the 90s!

So I’ll grand that my information is a bit dated, but even so, since when are they not composed of criminals? It’s right there in the name: Chaos. They at least used to be a bunch of vandals who hacked into systems and caused trouble “for the lulz,” to use the modern parlance.

What changed?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: What's in a name?

It’s right there in the name: Chaos.

And I’m pretty sure both the Chinese, and North Korean governments have ‘Democratic’ and ‘People’s’ in their names, but to anyone paying attention neither government is very interested in democracy, or serving the public.

Just because a group has ‘chaos’ in the name, doesn’t really mean much. Heck, the UK and Europe has the Pirate Party, yet I’m not sure how many members are Pastafarians.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: I watched the movie V for Vendetta the other night

The original graphic novel was very much inspired by the Thatcher government of the 1980s, and Cameron is a Thatcher fanboy. None of this is new, nor surprising when the Tories managed to usurp power (perhaps not the correct word, but their party wasn’t really elected, and the Lib Dem part of the coalition hasn’t exactly been stopping them from doing what they would have done had they gained power alone).

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“So a mobile operator is blocking it.”

Did you deliberately skip over the following sentence, or was it inconvenient to whatever point you were trying to make?

“The Open Rights Group’s “Blocked” website indicates that Virgin Media and Vodafone had both blocked the site until recently”

So, at least 2 mobile operators and the 3rd biggest domestic ISP in the country.

Sheogorath (profile) says:

Hey, Techdirt!

How’s about instead of bitching about these problems, you become part of the solution? All you have to do is maintain on this website a list of the URLs that are blocked and the IP addresses required to get to each website. Hackers and other interested parties would provide the the URLs and their accompanying IP addresses, and all you would have to do is test that they work correctly before publishing them, as well as altering or pruning addresses that no longer work.

Case says:

Lost in translation...

Interestingly, the CCC’s official translation of the article is much more tame than the original. The translation says

However, it may very well be that the CCC is considered “extremist” judged by British standards of freedom of speech.

Whereas the German original would translate as

But possibly in Great Britain, a country which has been acting outside Central European standards of freedom of speech for years, the CCC passes as “extremist”

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