back to article Plusnet is working on a network-level filter to block pirate sites

Plusnet is developing its own network-level filter to allow subscribers to censor content on its broadband service as well as help the telco suffocate access to websites linking to pirated material, The Register has learned. The Sheffield-based ISP, which is owned by telecoms giant BT, confirmed to us that its censorship tool …

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  1. Piro

    So instead of "We'll do you proud."

    They're looking at "We'll stop you doing what you wanted to do".

    Thanks for that, Plusnet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So instead of "We'll do you proud."

      They're looking at "We'll try to stop you doing what you wanted to do".

      There, fixed it for you. TPB proxies will still work just fine....as no doubt will the latest web address they seem to move to every week or two...

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: So instead of "We'll do you proud."

        I've been with Plusnet for years and generally happy with their service. Might change if they start mucking about like this, though generally easy enough to find a workaround.

        Not a pirate bay user, but for the record:

        http://www.unblocked-piratebay.com/

        1. David 45

          Re: So instead of "We'll do you proud."

          Me too. Happy up until now. If they block so much as one iota of my service (or even a mega-iota!) then I shall be considering my options, as the saying goes.

    2. JeremyP99

      Re: So instead of "We'll do you proud."

      VPn solves this. You can get it for less than a fiver a month these days

      1. Jimbob87
        Stop

        Re: So instead of "We'll do you proud."

        Exactly the same as a spotify unlimited account, which is legal and pays (albeit a tiny amount) money to artists.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: So instead of "We'll do you proud."

      Bottom line.

      ISP bought by "big 5" --> Turns to s**t.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But...

    ..Plusnet already have user settable "safety" filters. I turned mine off when I signed up years ago.

    So I assume this is something more aggressive and intrusive.

  3. wolfetone Silver badge

    Shouldn't they be fixing their website before they start blocking other websites?

    1. druck Silver badge

      Or giving us secure email access?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Court Orders.

    <quote> Plusnet is in the process of launching a more comprehensive blocking solution that means Plusnet will block all websites engaged in online copyright infringement where ordered by a court to do so. <unquote>

    Obviously sites will have to be blocked when ordered to by a court, but so far they have not been included in the list of ISPs which have been ordered to block sites. According to the article they have started block TPB, so how does that fit in to to process?

    1. Test Man

      Re: Court Orders.

      Really simple. They're doing it off their own backs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Court Orders.

        I suspect it's a double douse of BT branded paranoia, if someone might do something then something must be done to mitigate this. BT head hounchos will want Plusnet to provide a solution for site blocking and Plusnet will want to maintain control over their network and not be forced to use the same tools used by vanilla BT.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Court Orders.

        They're not working on it, they're doing it, as I discovered the other day. Hardly a challenge to point and laugh at it and then bypass it, but if they have done this off their own backs they'll find themselves unceremoniously dumped when the contract period is up.

      3. David 45

        Re: Court Orders.

        Surely if they're doing it off their own backs with no court order, a suing would be in order!

    2. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Court Orders.

      I wonder if they will also block Google.....

      If I want to find pirated stuff the first thing I do is a "Google" search as this is usually quite sufficient in order to find the "pirated" material.

      Like many other I also use youtube for watching copyrighted films, ie Full Movies, will they also block youtube ( there are more any more images of Womens Breasts, oooooohhhhhh, on youtube, again they must be blocked for all this evil doing).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Court Orders.

        "If I want to find pirated stuff the first thing I do is a "Google" search as this is usually quite sufficient in order to find the "pirated" material."

        Especially if you go straight to the bit at the bottom which helpfully points out which links were removed by DMCA requests...

    3. Benchops

      Re: Court Orders.

      BT owned Plusnet blocking websites that claim to allow users to download whole television series to their devices on payment of a fee. www.sky.com

    4. dmck

      Re: Court Orders.

      I still haven't had an answer to whether an English High Court order is legal to Scotland.

      When the footballer went to court to stop the papers etc talking about what he had done it was legal for someone in Scotland to post to twitter, even though someone in England could not do so legally.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    BT spends fortune on Football

    BT suddenly interested in draconian copyright filtering.

    Welcome to the world of whack-a-mole BT.

  6. bigtimehustler

    Haha, welcome to loads of expense for no reason plusnet, many have tried to block copyright content at network level, no one has yet managed it, I don't see plusnet being the game changers.

    1. 1Rafayal

      Doesnt BT do just this with regards to TPB?

      1. Oliver Mayes

        RE: 1Rafayal

        Yes, but since it's just DNS blocking TPB just keep moving the domain and BT are currently playing catch up having to update the blocking constantly. Virgin do the same thing.

        1. Alan Edwards

          Re: RE: 1Rafayal

          > Yes, but since it's just DNS blocking

          Whatever PlusNet are doing it's not DNS-based, TPB is blocked for me even though I don't use their DNS. I don't think they are redirecting DNS queries, OpenDNS are still returning their error pages to me.

      2. bigtimehustler

        No, they block it at domain level. If this is what plusnet are planning, rather some network level filtering then I don't know what research / development they are doing, serving out a blocked page for DNS requests is childs play, but very easy to get around.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      wait and see

      methinks this move will split their customers into three groups, your guess which one is going to be the biggest:

      1. those who can't be bothered to go round the filters and who therefore stop stealing and terrorising (hallelujah!)

      2. those who can be bothered to go round the filters and continue being the peado-thieving terrorists

      3. those who can't be bothered to go round the filters and go to another provider instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: wait and see

        "1. those who can't be bothered to go round the filters and who therefore stop stealing and terrorising (hallelujah!)"

        What's this got to do with stealing and / or terrorists - I thought this was just about copyright infringement?

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: wait and see

          Wake up man, didn't you now that Copyright Infringement and Terrorism are on the same level on the scale of terrible things to do.....

          Well at least he RIAA, MPAA et al seem to think so

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: wait and see

          "What's this got to do with stealing and / or terrorists - I thought this was just about copyright infringement?"

          The link between the COPYRIGHT THEFT and terrorism goes back quite some time ago. I vaguely remember a cinema poster with a menacing figure lurking in one corner, and some wording to the effect that "stealing movies" funds terrorists, or something to this effect. And this "link" is brought up every now and again, so I thought it appropriate to mention it now.

          and the kids? Well, the threat to kids is another bogeyman, combined with terrorism, just to reinforce the current point how bad, bad, bad stealing is. Hence the "paedo-terrorist thieves".

          ...

          Actually, I must slap and re-educate myself in a Highland labour camp, the "think of the children" argument has recently been used for a different purpose, by our Glorious Leader, to introduce online censorship in the UK, not to stop terror menace, or online thieves ruining our digital economy.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: wait and see

            "The link between the COPYRIGHT THEFT"

            I think you are confused. There is no such thing as 'copyright theft'. Theft involves depriving someone of something that they own leaving them without it. Copyright infringement, which is not in anyway theft - legally or otherwise, simply involves making or distributing a copy without permission.

            If still not clear, please see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4

            "and terrorism goes back quite some time ago. I vaguely remember a cinema poster with a menacing figure lurking in one corner, and some wording to the effect that "stealing movies" funds terrorists,

            Absolute rubbish. The only time that piracy funds terrorists is off the coast of Somalia...

            1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

              Re: AC 19:21

              AC 16:20 is not saying copyright infringement funds terrorism. He is saying that the MPAA said piracy funds terrorism.

              http://www.infoworld.com/t/networking/file-trading-may-fund-terrorism-766

              http://boingboing.net/2011/03/16/piracy-doesnt-fund-t.html

              Politicians are still well behind the times. Paedos and bombers are not the boogie man any more. I am far more frightened of bankers taking another chunk out of my pension fund. Which do you think we will see fist: MPAA saying 'Sharing movies crashes the stock market' or a law that says 'You can be held in custody for up to 42 days without food or water if the police suspect you are involved in banking'?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: AC 19:21

                "AC 16:20 is not saying copyright infringement funds terrorism. He is saying that the MPAA said piracy funds terrorism."

                He says "The link between ...." not "The claimed link between..." - and whilst he attributes his source, he doesnt question it's accuracy.

                My local DeeVeeDeeeee vendor might eventually fund the Triads or similar criminal gangs, but my 'give a fuck' meter still registers near zero...

                One of the the largest sources of funding for IRA terrorists historically was direct donations from US citizens, not dodgy movies.

      2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Re: wait and see

        this move will split their customers into three groups,...

        2. those who ... continue being the peado-thieving terrorists

        I am all in favour of terrorists kidnapping paedophiles.

        Is this what Plus Net is looking into doing?

        If I sign up, what can I do to the ones I catch?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: wait and see re: I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          Anything you want, as many times as you want.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: wait and see re: I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

            anyone else hear banjoes?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    These are the muppets that want to use carrier-grade NAT instead of upgrading to IPv6?

    1. Suricou Raven

      Why would they want IPv6? Deploying CNAT instead allows them to not only render near-useless all forms of p2p file sharing and home server (and thus get rid of a lot of users who place disproportionate demand on their network) but to do so in a deniable manner. De-facto filtering made to look like an unintended side-effect.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Deploying CNAT instead allows them to not only render near-useless all forms of p2p file sharing"

        Nope, most P2P can easily traverse a NAT device. For instance my Wifi router...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good reason not to use them

    Given the race-to-the-bottom pricing that seems to be the only reason for using Plusnet, I suspect they are doing this to save network bandwidth, and not out of any concern for other's IP.

    It seems likely that anti-blocking tools will be developed to get round most of this, but ISP blocking of any sorts should be resisted on principle, as very soon it will be used for reasons that are not in the customer's best interest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Antiblocking tools ?

      Isn't that called a browser, and a proxy site? They were developed some time back ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Antiblocking tools ?

        That is one method, but such proxies are often on the block list.

        I was referring to the like of The Pirate Bay's plans for a distributed torrent-like web site, so no single IP or DNS point to block. The moles to be whacked just got cloned...

        http://torrentfreak.com/how-the-pirate-bay-plans-to-beat-censorship-for-good-140105/

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Antiblocking tools ?

          "such proxies are often on the block list."

          Actually they are hardly ever on the block lists, as the courts don't normally play that sort of Whack-A-Mole

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Antiblocking tools ?

            "the courts don't normally play that sort of Whack-A-Mole"

            Sadly in the UK the courts don't have to - they just let the BPI, etc, add any sites they want to the ISP' list without having to go through that pesky business of due process:

            http://torrentfreak.com/uk-isps-secretly-start-blocking-torrent-site-proxies-130611/

            However you see the IP vs. Pirate debate, giving money-based organisations the right to block as they please, and with no punishment if they get it "wrong" is simply unacceptable.

            1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

              Re: Antiblocking tools ?

              I just loved the way that when I first opened the article, the unfortunately now-obligatory AdChoices ad dumped on the middle of the page was for "Hotspot Shield", with a banner headline about using it to bypass blocks on sites.

              Stunningly appropriate and amusing given their usual ability to display utterly irrelevant and random ads.

              Was a nice little way to end a rather dull Wednesday at work...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Antiblocking tools ?

          >The Pirate Bay's plans for a distributed torrent-like web site

          What's wrong with Tor?

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Antiblocking tools ?

            It's been subverted by the Men In Black because it can't work end to end. Plodd simply take over and start up enough endpoints to sniff most of the traffic.

  9. Micky 1
    Pirate

    The only thing the filters have stopped is being able to find the torrents directly from Google on page 1 of the results....the other night I had to go all the way to page 2 of the results to get my torrents from the 60 or so mirror sites each big torrent site has ...I was so tired from the extra effort that I almost gave up and declared the terrorists and peados the winners.

  10. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    My router went up in smoke (yes, really) the other day. Dashed out and bought a new one, installed Tomato and guess what, I notice that it supports Tor AND OpenVPN.

    Just sayin'

  11. batfastad

    Also...

    Presumably they'll also be blocking...

    Google, Yahoo etc since in my experience they are the best places to search for pirated material.

    Also... eBay, Amazon Marketplace, Discogs, gemm and any other sites that facilitate the purchase of 2nd hand CDs/DVDs/games etc.

    Yeah right. People might have a bit more respect for the enforcement of piracy if it was enforced consistently.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this affect Business accounts as well?

    As the per the title, do the restrictions apply to 'Business' accounts with Plusnet or only the home accounts......

  13. Silver

    Plusnet is in the process of launching a more comprehensive blocking solution that means Plusnet will block all websites engaged in online copyright infringement where ordered by a court to do so

    Maybe I'm misreading this, but it sounds like to me that PlusNet's existing blocking capability is a bit of a pain in the backside to update.

    Given that and their expectation that the courts will order a lot more sites to be blocked in the future, they are simply updating the system so they can comply with orders quicker, cheaper and with less effort than they do today.

    I could, however, be completely wrong - but I find it odd that an ISP would start going above and beyond what the courts order, unless they like losing customers.

  14. msknight Silver badge
    FAIL

    Tell me about it.

    I'm not sure that I've already been a victim of early trials...

    http://msknight.com/technilife/?p=147 - Yes, I do know I "emphasised" things a little ... but, hey, I was angry! (still am)

    ...possibly ... I just don't know.

    Oh ... and one of their staff did decided to join in the comments (which were also part of the plusnet call in the end) but too little, too late ... so they are worth reading as well.

  15. Vociferous

    A bit misleading

    This doesn't have anything to do with parental controls, this is for when Plusnet gets court-ordered to censor sites, i.e. another brick in the Great Firewall of Britain, and another heroic victory in the righteous battle to Protect The Children(tm) by taking everyone's freedoms away.

  16. Conor Turton

    All about the bandwidth.

    The piraters are the biggest users of bandwidth and bandwidth is Plusnets biggest expense so it makes sense to them as a network to reduce piracy over their network as much as possible.

    You can't price a service at the price they do if you have everyone on it downloading 500GB a month and still want to provide a usable service during peak hours.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All about the bandwidth.

      "The piraters are the biggest users of bandwidth"

      Nope - not by a long way - services like Netflix and other such subscription / on demand services lead the pack...

    2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Oh yes you can

      "You can't price a service at the price they do if you have everyone on it downloading 500GB a month and still want to provide a usable service during peak hours."

      What you do is make it easier for everyone on your server able to dowload at slotted times. Then when they have all filled all their hard drives they will be so busy watching thousands of hours of rubbish that their will nobody online.

      That means they will have all those bill payers every month only occasionally downloading the odd film they didn't get in the mad rush.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are you sure about this?

    "The likes of BT, TalkTalk and BSkyB are using DNS lookup"

    I've had the TalkTalk "HomeSafe" filters engaged on my home line for the past month or so as an experiment to see if it intruded into my regular surfing much, and when I try to access adult content (to test the blocking obviously!) the big bold "Sorry mate!" screen appears pretty much every time.

    What makes me question your assertion is that my home network is configured to use the 4.2.2.1 - 6 array as upstream DNS servers, so if TT were simply disallowing lookups through their own DNS infrastructure, surely I wouldn't have seen anything blocked?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are you sure about this?

      They are most likely re-directing your DNS requests to their own servers.

  18. demented

    I way i see this ,If i have to start using a VPN to circumvent the crappy filtering nonsense deployed by an ISP. A may as well switch to an ISP that doesn't pander to the music & film industries , or are they doing this to save on bandwidth ? The monthly subs may cost me more if with a smaller ISP, but when the cost of a decent VPN service is added to what i have now there isn't a grate deal of difference in the price,

    As for the Porn filter (Camerloon filter) As i am already an adult i don't want or need this BS and don't want to pay for it , because the costs will be passed on to the customer

    Plusnet must want to shed subscribers as doing this that's what's gonna happen , that shiny new call center in Leeds may become a white elephant in the not too distant future

  19. WraithCadmus
    Go

    Thanks plusnet

    You've made my decision to switch that much easier.

  20. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Phew! That was close

    I was thinking about switchiong to plusnet just before Christmas. Glad I didn't now.

    1. Spoonsinger

      Re: "I was thinking about switchiong to plusnet just before Christmas"

      Was it the adverts that was swinging you or the bargain basement rate for the first x months with y months of tie-in? Just curious like.

  21. MCROnline

    They need rebranding

    as MinusNet.

  22. Haku

    ISPs with permanent filters should be re-branded as PISPs

    Partial Internet Service Providers

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plusnet were once good, but sadly since BT stuck there awe in everyone i know who had an account has been swiftly moved to another ISP.

    I especially liked the fact when BT took over the show that customers on base packages got a stupidly low limit of around 1GB per day allowance or their broadband crawled to sub ISDN speed.

    Yes they would give you broadband, but if you actually tried to use it for anything other than viewing static web pages you might as well dig out your modem.

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Cardinal

    You've been barrelled

    I think that to some extent the ISP's have you part-way over a barrel though.

    If you leave Plusnet NOW, how much of your current contract are you giving up, and what penalty do you pay?

    What guarantee do you have that 2 months into the 12/18month contract you have with your next ISP they are not going to do the same thing - thus forcing you to switch again?

    How often can you do this and at what expense?

    How many different ISP's do you have in your area?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You've been barrelled

      "How many different ISP's do you have in your area?"

      Most people in most areas of the UK have lots of ISPs to choose from, even in Ofcon's "Market 1" (ie monopolised by BTWholesale, therefore expensive) areas.

      Most readers may not have heard of them but that doesn't mean they're no good.

      There's AAISP, Zen, and loads of others from B to Y in between.

      All using BT Openreach to do the "last mile" and BT Wholesale between the exchange and the ISP datacentre (AAISP and Zen and others also have alternatives to BT Wholesale in some geographic areas).

      Metronet (sadly bought by Plusnet) used to combine their per-customer-configurable network-level content filtering with a network level ad blocker (and maybe even a network level malware-site blocker).

      Don't expect to see that from Plusnet these days.

      1. davemcwish

        Re: You've been barrelled

        I've been with Zen for the last 10 years and with only 1 minor outage been very happy. I won't upgrade to fibre as they want £4.50 / month premium unless I also take their phone package.

        If/when the time comes that I need fibre I'll probably have to go elsewhere.

  26. batfastad

    Overselling

    It sounds to me like someone doesn't have enough product to go around, or can't afford to supply the product to all its customers.

  27. Andy Livingstone

    Not worth once

    I cannot stop laughing. You managed to get the phrase "Plusnet is working" into the report twice. Plusnet.......... the ISP that thinks underground cables go overhead.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Da Kidz

    It's like that old Queen song "Now I'm here"

    Kidz find da info off a mate.

    Now if only we all had stayed shut up about what we know, we wouldn't be in this situation.

    oo! Found a TPB proxy, while I'm here may as well download something.

    Never visited TPB until I was told I couldn't.

    Oddly for my crap memory, something springs to mind. Some fruit/veg from a couple of decades ago. It had (in small capital letters) SEX stamped on it. Anyone here who can relieve my frustation? Weak innuendo intended.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Freeloading plebs

    Hate them all. Making content more expensive for everyone

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proverbs 31:6

    As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

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