USENET Indexes and Torrent Sites Under Attack
In the United Kingdom, The Pirate Bay has already been subjected to censorship. Likewise, the Newsbin2 USENET indexing site was also blocked by ISPs in the UK. Similar efforts are underway in the United States and in other nations, which may mean big problems for USENET users in the future.
While open Internet advocates and entertainment industry lawyers may disagree about whether or not Internet sites should be blocked by ISPs, there are ways around these blocks that are really quite easy to use. Recent studies have already shown that younger people are gravitating towards using VPN services to conceal their activities online. These services utilize encryption to make it virtually impossible for an ISP to recognize traffic that they want to restrict.
Likewise, USENET services generally utilize SSL connections to conceal activity when users browse the news servers. Between an SSL connection and a VPN, there is enough encryption to allow users to surf the Internet in a much more private fashion.
Even though privacy advocates and others have been particularly concerned about this wave of censorship, the actual site owners who own some of the most targeted sites have not shown the same amount of concern. In fact, the operators of some of the sites maintain that the government actions only increase the popularity of their sites and encourage people to find ways around the ISP imposed blocks on their ability to access the Internet.
USENET has been targeted by judges and industry advocates, as well. A Dutch judge found in 2010 that a USENET community was as culpable for piracy for simply talking about the fact that a copyrighted movie was available on the USENET as they would have been if they had actually provided the file themselves.
The growing wave of attacks against Internet freedom has privacy advocates extremely concerned, consumers looking for ways to conceal their online activities and the entertainment industry always looking for creative new ways to utilize the legal mechanisms of many different nations to protect their profits. In the Netherlands, the Pirate Party was ordered by the courts to shut down a proxy service that they were providing that allowed people to access The Pirate Bay, in spite of the restrictions imposed by the government.
SOPA and PIPA represent the latest two attempts by the US government to restrict access to the Internet in the interest of copyright protection. Currently, other legislation centered on protecting national security has raised the concern of privacy advocates in the US.