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back to article US court rules IP address cloaks may break law

If you're a normal Internet user, you probably think you have the right to access anything that's put before the public. Not any more, at least in America, where the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act has been invoked to support a user-specific ban on accessing a Website, and in which the use of a proxy to circumvent a block has been …

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Of course, said Australian circumventing geo-blocking would only be in violation of any actual law if it was an Australian law (or they were residing in the US and doing it from there).

Australia doesn't directly apply US laws for some reason - something to do with being an entirely different country, I think.

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Anonymous Coward

No, said Australian would be in violation of US law. It might be difficult for the US to enforce that law, but he would still be in violation of it.

Just because you reside and operate in one country does not mean that you can not violate the laws of another.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't be so sure

"Australia doesn't directly apply US laws for some reason - something to do with being an entirely different country, I think."

Since when does being an entirely different sovereign country make America think that it doesn't own your ass and can do as it pleases ?

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Re: Don't be so sure

I don't pledge allegiance every morning, does that mean I'm breaking some US law too or is that only the kids at school?

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Unhappy

@condiment

"Just because you reside and operate in one country does not mean that you can not violate the laws of another."

Funny, because Google are claiming the exact opposite

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Trollface

Re: @condiment

"Just because you reside and operate in one country does not mean that you can not violate the laws of another."

Imma eating pork during ramadan!

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Re: @condiment

Google are claiming that US law applies to UK users because the software is in the US so those making a claim need to do so in California, not the UK.

So Google are actually saying that what UK users do on US servers is subject to US law.

The reality is that what you do on some remote site is subject to laws of the remote site's country, your own countries law and quite possibly some other countries law. For example, somebody in the UK using a German site to scam people in Spain could be breaking the law in the UK, Germany and Spain.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't be so sure

> I don't pledge allegiance every morning, does that mean I'm breaking some US law too or is that only the kids at school?

in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette the Supreme Court ruled that compulsory unification of opinion violates the First Amendment right to free speech. Therefore kids do not have to Pledge Allegiance. A later opinion decided that they do not have stand when others are taking the pledge.

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Black Helicopters

@ LaeMing

"Australia doesn't directly apply US laws for some reason - something to do with being an entirely different country, I think."

Unfortunately that doesn't apply in the UK where you can be extradited to face charges under American law, and without a shred of evidence of the supposed wrongdoing ever being presented.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ LaeMing

> UK where you can be extradited to face charges under American law, and without a shred of evidence

Who was extradited without a shred of evidence? I must have missed it.

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Re: @ LaeMing

Yes, you did, AC. It is part of the extradition agreement which the Blair government signed up to (he's done pretty well out of the US since he was evicted, hasn't he?)

John McCain, no less, actually observed in the Senate that the extradition treaty was pretty unbalanced. Basically if a US Court wants you they do not have to present any evidence - and unless you manage to attract the attention of a lot of people and perhaps the ECHR that Cameron and Farage want to excuse us from, there is not a lot you can do about it. You can fall into the bottomless money sucking pit that is the Calvinism-derived US legal system, be faced with a plea bargain to admit to something you didn't do or go to prison for life for it, and the Home Secretary will try to wash her hands of you.

You might also want to look at what happened to SpamAssassin.

Anyone who had to learn about the Roman Empire at school will recognise the syndrome. Upset the Emperor and you could be pursued to the borders of Iran. Or the Germanies. In those days, of course, there wasn't a Russian government to try.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ LaeMing

So basically, you do not have any examples.

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Re: @condiment

"So Google are actually saying that what UK users do on US servers is subject to US law."

I performed a traceroute to www.google.co.uk earlier today and got a wonderfully low 32ms response time.

That server farm is *not* in the US.

I also know that different 'Google's for different countries deliver different results for the same searches based on laws in those countries, which means that they are offering a bespoke service to each country.

In my book that means the UK Google servers are operating under UK law.

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"Just because you reside and operate in one country does not mean that you can not violate the laws of another."

This is very true.

Literally millions of Americans violate UK law every day by driving on the right.

Unfortunately this stuff is a long way from being black and white, despite what our governments (and a sizeable chunk of our media) would like us to think.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @condiment

> I performed a traceroute ....

Reality and what google claim might not be the same thing. This thread has nothing to do with whether Google's claim is true or false but everything to do with whether google is claiming US law applies to UK citizens.

You can find the discussion about the veracity of googles claim here

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Anonymous Coward

> Literally millions of Americans violate UK law every day by driving on the right.

Driving on the right on US roads does not violate a single UK law. The Road Traffic Act 1988 only applies to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Most laws enacted in the UK are limited by geographical area. Some will only apply to England or Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland (or any combination) while others will apply to specific overseas territories. Other laws apply to UK citizens no matter what part of the world they are in.

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Re: @condiment

The geographically focused results do not arise because of server location, they arise because google chooses those results most relevant to your location, independent of the server which it happens to use.

I think, but I could be wrong, that all servers are being continuously updated to the same content, with some getting the updates sooner than others.

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IP cloaking illegal now?

Does this make Network Address Translation, and IP Masquerade illegal? I guess it would if you use this to circumvent IP access control restrictions as was the case above.

Either way I can see this ending badly.

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Holmes

Re: IP cloaking illegal now?

Surely only if it can be shown you're 'without authorisation' which implies that if you have to visit the site in the first place to determine your 'authorisation' then it's like shrinkwrap terms you can't read without opening the shrinkwrap.

Thus invalid. Unless the USA says so then you can be bombed, have your presidential jet grounded, your journalista relatives detained and/or not-stongarmed by their president presumably.

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Joke

Re: IP cloaking illegal now?

Does this make Network Address Translation, and IP Masquerade illegal?

Many US government agencies use NATed networks, so my guess is "only for private citizens and foreign entities."

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Hang on...

What we have here is effectively a deliberate attempt at deception, verging on fraudulent. It's less than astonishing that its got itself labelled as illegal. Sky does not appear to be falling here...

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Thumb Up

Re: Hang on...

@Jim:

Exactly.I don't see the story here - if I have a publically available website, yet choose to refuse someone access, then that is my right, and as long as I he taken reasonable action so that they are aware, then any further access would be actionable.

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Anonymous Coward

Poor article

No the US court did NOT rule that "IP address cloaks may break law".

Craigslist banned 3Taps from using their service - as they have the right to do. They also decided they would place an IP address block in an attempt to block 3Taps from continuing to access their service despite being banned.

3Taps tried to get around the IP address block, despite knowing that they were not authorised to access the service. The method they used to try and get around the block (using a proxy) is immaterial. Consequently they were found guilty of accessing a service which they knew they were not permitted to access.

Same would apply in many countries (including UK) and has nothing explicitly to do with the use of a proxy and everything to do with continuing to access a service you have been banned from using.

As per the comment above, the sky is most definitely not falling here.

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Re: Poor article

> No the US court did NOT rule that "IP address cloaks may break law".

Effectively, they did. What they ruled was that using "technical means" to access a service the "authority" has denied you access to is an offence under the CFAA.

This sets a precedent. Ignore the 3Taps/Craigslist stuff, they were dicks and got what they deserved. Think wider - as soon as you use any method to get around a block, you're a criminal.

e.g. a network-level block imposed by the court on The Pirate Bay means the "authority" has denied you access. If you then use a proxy/VPN/whatever to access it, you have committed a crime under the CFAA (or the British equivalent, which was probably written in 1873 and refers to 'tabulating engines').

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Poor article

So like, a pedophile is banned from using facebook. In order to get back on facebook he access it using TOR.

Use of TOR is not breaking the law in this instance, accessing facebook when he's been told he can't however is.

Or being banned from driving your car, so instead you drive your friends car. etc etc.

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WTF?

Sorry but this is *not* Joe public, these guys want to make their business off someone else's

Without paying Craigslist but presumably charging for the result.

Who do they think they are?

Google?

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Re: Sorry but this is *not* Joe public, these guys want to make their business off someone else's

Well now that just depends.

If what they did was highlight craigslist results, and then forward any users interested in an item directly onto the Craigslist site where they could continue doing whatever it is they wanted to be doing with Craigslist, then yes, just like Google.

You don't work for a newspaper do you?

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I suspect the whole issue is moot. This really comes down to little more than commercial theft. The issue is that they sent a cease-and-desist, which the other company then circumvented using technical means.

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Big Brother

You wish.

Lawyers, especially government lawyers, are bound to use selective wording used here to haul asses to Obama's Reeducation Camps. Just wait a few hours.

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Anonymous Coward

This is pretty messed up

It reminds me of the case where they used that law against a woman who harassed an acquaintance of her daughter online, which may have contributed to her suicide. That case was overturned however. The similarity is that in both cases the target of the case was clearly in the wrong ethically, but the authorities used a very inappropriate law to prosecute it, setting a dangerous precedent.

It also dramatically lowers my opinion of Craiglist, which previously seemed like a surprisingly decent outfit.

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Anonymous Coward

The court almost got it right

The perp should have also been convicted of violation of the TOS and both fined and imprisoned. Japan has the right idea with mandatory prison sentences and high fines for digital crims.

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Re: The court almost got it right

Stick subseven on your sister's computer and make it flip the screen upside down?

10 YEARS IN THE RAPE HOLE FOR YOU, MOTHERFUCKER.

Yeah, the American influence on modern Japanese law is all too fucking obvious. I think I've mentioned they're as insane over so called intellectual "property", too. Glad I live nowhere near there.

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On the downside,

privacy is pretty much dead, which is how the governments want it. Privacy will be the vanguard of those who value the right to privacy, and those that are deliberately trying to hide their activities. That in itself will be, and is, be the reason we are told we shouldn't have privacy. If we do, then thoughtcrime is coming into play etc etc etc.

Makes me very sad, depressed and wanting to pull the plug out of the wall.

On the upside, it probably means the governments will push IP v6 out to monitor infomation better so that protocol will finally get implemented.

Joy.

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Tech law to tackle non-tech problems

It is unfortunate that they chose the tech angle; surely the cease-and-desist letter would have called for a copyright-centered case. That would have been better for everyone. The problem wasn't access, it was redistribution. Though the ruling focuses on the access, making it illegal. Worrying trend, even if this particular ruling stated that access was made illegal by the explicit "single user" notification, it still opens the gate to a very slippery slope (if I may say so ;-) ).

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Anonymous Coward

At the end of the day an IP address is required purely for the network to work. Just because it is useful for law providers doesn't mean that it is mandatory for them to be able to access it.

You can withhold your phone number when calling people, so why is the Internet different?

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Witheld numbers.

It's unlikely that a "crime" could be commited on a withheld phone number without the direct knowledge of the owner (that is, one must actively answer the withheld numbered call). With an anyonimised IP, it's different, the server will "accept" the "call" without intervention from the owner of the site and therefore, like in this case a "crime" could be commited where the owner only finds out after the fact.

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Anonymous Coward

Number withheld - why is the Internet different?

"You can withhold your phone number when calling people, so why is the Internet different?"

Technically... That's because on the Internet we don't have two separate channels, one for call management, that only gets as far as the ISP, and one for call data, which gets all the way through to your device, but we use TCP/IP where the addressing is included in each packet.

Practically speaking... withholding your phone number when calling causes more problems than it solves. (And those problems could be resolved via other means, eg a reference number allowing differentiation (and future call blocking of the same caller), but not identity).

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Facepalm

Re:so why is the Internet different?

I cant believe an El reg regular is actually asking that question.

tell you what. send me a cheque for a ,million dollars in an envelope with no return address so you don't need to tell me who you are or where you live, and I'll send you the girl of your dreams. by return post. Honest.

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You logic is flawed. there is no way to hide your phone number from the cops. Lets I'm on sprint and I call some one on ATT. The minute the person on ATT picks up, ATT has my number which they can give to the police. It's Not like it is in the movies it's instant. You can spoof caller ID but not ANI. You can only hide your number from Caller and not the phone company y or police.

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Even if we say that the phone analogy holds.

If you have been forbidden from calling me on my phone - let's say it's cause you moan "Fry is groovy" every time I answer - then calling me is forbidden, regardless of what means you take to make sure you aren't calling from your number.

To my eyes this was the point of the ruling. That indeed you can't access a site from which you've been banned, even if you do so from another address It was a ruling to extend somewhat reasonable law onto the internet?

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Go

This seems reasonable to me.....

Surely Craigslist has the right to block parties from using their service, whether those parties use anonymization technologies or not. Especially considering that the blocked party was going to Craigslist and stealing their business in a rather literal fashion.

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Change of address

So what if they didn't use a proxy, but just changed address. Perhaps they wanted to use a cheaper host. Did this ruling make the break the law?

The ruling was that stealing the data wasn't ilegal, just they way they gained entry.

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Unhappy

If you add up all the controls, interception and flagrant misuse of privacy, the internet is pretty much dead when compared to the original ideals behind it.

It's time to evolve again.

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Probably Crap Code

Other folk around the web manage to scrape sites larger than craiglist without incurring the wrath of the owners so one does have to wonder about the elegance of the code created by 3Taps.

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Um, what?

This has nothing to do with use of proxies and a lot more to do with tort law: trespass to chattels.

Remember that Cyberpromo case all those years ago?

The fact that a proxy was used doesn't make it any less of a tort and Craigslist raised the wrong argument on this particular issue. It's surprising the judge didn't slap them down for that but not surprising that they got their injunction, given there's a long-established precedent in place.

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“authorization”

Contrary to popular opinion, the -ization speling is not specific to US English. Have a look at the Oxford English Dictionary: you’ll find entries for authorization, authorize, &c., but none for authorisation, authorise, &c.

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“speling”

Yes, I missed an L there. Mea culpa.

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Headmaster

Re: “authorization”

As Morse himself pointed out in one episode.

However, right thinking people know that the OED editors made a grievous error of judgement in this matter.

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Re: “authorization”

Philip, then it would behoove such people to follow the example of W. C. Minor and contact the OED editors, so that they can explain to the editors why their -ization choice was so grievously erroneous. The editors’ reasoning can be found under the -ize headword:

But the suffix itself, whatever the element to which it is added, is in its origin the Gr. -ιζειν, L. -izāre; and, as the pronunciation is also with z, there is no reason why in English the special French spelling should be followed, in opposition to that which is at once etymological and phonetic.

Good luck to right thinking people and their special French spelling.

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