Erdogan knows the laws of foreign countries at least as well as he knows his own. He’s found another “insulting a friendly foreign head of state” law on the books in the Netherlands and has successfully demanded punishment for this violation of a foreign law by a foreign citizen.This is an unacceptable turn of events. Just because the law is on the books doesn’t mean Dutch prosecutors have to actually prosecute anyone. Laws are broken every day, and even those incidents that law enforcement witness don’t always result in charges. For this person, there’s the possibility of a 6-8 month jail sentence for comparing Erdogan to Hitler, which isn’t that much of a stretch.
Police in the Dutch city of Rotterdam have launched a new pilot programme which will see them confiscating expensive clothing and jewellery from young people if they look too poor to own them.Officers say the scheme will see them target younger men in designer clothes they seem unlikely to be able to afford legally – if it is not clear how the person paid for it, it will be confiscated.The idea is to deter criminality by sending a signal that the men will not be able to hang onto their ill-gotten gains.
Early last year The Court of The Hague handed down its decision in a long running case which had previously forced two Dutch ISPs, Ziggo and XS4ALL, to block The Pirate Bay.
The Court ruled against local anti-piracy outfit BREIN, concluding that the blockade was ineffective and restricted the ISPs’ entrepreneurial freedoms.
Responding to the verdict the two ISPs quickly unblocked the site and various other Dutch ISPs followed suit.
Meanwhile, the Hollywood-backed group took its case all the way to the Supreme Court and today Advocate General Van Peursem published his conclusion after a careful review.
The Advocate General advises the Supreme Court to stay the proceedings between BREIN and the Internet providers in order to seek clarification from the EU Court of Justice on several matters.
The first question that requires a European review is whether The Pirate Bay is actually communicating illegal content to the public. If this isn’t the case then the EU Court should rule whether ISPs can be ordered to block the site on other grounds.
A decision at the European level will be important, as it may also affect court orders in other countries, such as the UK, Italy and Belgium.
When the questions are resolved at the EU Court, the Advocate General advises to redo the entire trial noting that The Court of The Hague was too strict when it concluded that the blockade was ineffective and disproportional.
The Advocate General’s advice is not binding so it’s not yet certain whether the case will be referred to the EU Court of Justice. However, in most cases the recommendations are followed by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court is expected to release its verdict on October 9th.
The National Security Agency and its closest allies planned to hijack data links to Google and Samsung app stores to infect smartphones with spyware, a top-secret document reveals.
The surveillance project was launched by a joint electronic eavesdropping unit called the Network Tradecraft Advancement Team, which includes spies from each of the countries in the “Five Eyes” alliance — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.
The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was published Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept. The document outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012.
The main purpose of the workshops was to find new ways to exploit smartphone technology for surveillance. The agencies used the Internet spying system XKEYSCORE to identify smartphone traffic flowing across Internet cables and then to track down smartphone connections to app marketplace servers operated by Samsung and Google. (Google declined to comment for this story. Samsung said it would not be commenting “at this time.”)
As part of a pilot project codenamed IRRITANT HORN, the agencies were developing a method to hack and hijack phone users’ connections to app stores so that they would be able to send malicious “implants” to targeted devices. The implants could then be used to collect data from the phones without their users noticing.
Previous disclosures from the Snowden files have shown agencies in the Five Eyes alliance designed spyware for iPhones and Android smartphones, enabling them to infect targeted phones and grab emails, texts, web history, call records, videos, photos and other files stored on them. But methods used by the agencies to get the spyware onto phones in the first place have remained unclear.
The newly published document shows how the agencies wanted to “exploit” app store servers — using them to launch so-called “man-in-the-middle” attacks to infect phones with the implants. A man-in-the-middle attack is a technique in which hackers place themselves between computers as they are communicating with each other; it is a tactic sometimes used by criminal hackers to defraud people. In this instance, the method would have allowed the surveillance agencies to modify the content of data packets passing between targeted smartphones and the app servers while an app was being downloaded or updated, inserting spyware that would be covertly sent to the phones.
In June 2011, authorities in Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands raided premises suspected of having something to do with kino.to, a site that offered links to a Megaupload-style file lockers containing unlicensed copies of movies, music and TV shows.
Not long after the raids, the site shut up shop. Folks associated with the site were later jailed.
But according to a new research paper, Online Copyright Enforcement, Consumer Behavior, and Market Structure, closing the site had little effect on copyright breaches. Indeed, it may have spawned a new generation of stronger piracy services.
The paper was penned by Luis Aguiar of the European Union’s Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Jörg Claussen of the Copenhagen Business School and Christian Peukert from the University of Zürich. The three got their hands on Nielsen NetView data that “… monitors the online activity of a representative sample of Internet users by recording all of their URL visits together with visit duration, while guaranteeing them that the data will be kept anonymous.” With that data in hand, the authors set about identifying pirate sites and found that in their January to June 2011 sample kino.to topped their chart of 15 sites of interest with about 6,000 visits per week.
Those visits stopped once kino.to’s service ceased, but a new kinoX.to site that claimed to be kino.to’s the official heir quickly picked up traffic. So did other sites offering similar services.
“Put together, our data clearly shows that the shutdown massively altered the German market for unlicensed video streaming, making it less concentrated and more competitive,” the authors write. Users also started visiting more piracy sites, up to around 1.4 a week from the 1.15 when kino.to was online.
The study does find that former kino.to users did start to spend more time visiting sites selling licensed content, but argues “If we were to take the costs of the intervention into account (raid, criminal prosecution, etc.), our results would suggest that the shutdown of kino.to has not had a positive effect on overall welfare.”
“Finally,” the authors conclude, “the shutdown of kino.to resulted in a much more fragmented structure of the market for unlicensed movie streaming. This potentially makes future law enforcement interventions either more costly – as there would not be a single dominant platform to shutdown anymore – or less effective if only a single website is targeted by the intervention.”
After long maintaining a reputation for being one of the softest countries in Europe on piracy, in recent years Spain has really toughened up its approach to online infringement.
Last month the strength of new legislation became evident when a Madrid court gave local Internet service providers just 72 hours to block notorious torrent site The Pirate Bay (TPB).
The legal action against TPB was launched by the Association of Intellectual Rights Management (AGEDI) last year, but that wasn’t the only domain in the anti-piracy group’s sights. AGEDI and music group Promusicae had also been targeting Goear, an unlicensed music streaming service providing access to an estimated four million tracks.
Early efforts to bring down the site didn’t go to plan when a Madrid court refused to issue an order to block the site’s IP address back in March 2014. Undeterred, AGEDI responded with an appeal and complaint to the country’s Intellectual Property Commission.
Complaining that Goear provides access to copyrighted music without any permission from artists or rightsholders, AGEDI built a case highlighting commercial aspects of the site, particularly its advertising efforts which offered to put products in front of three million registered users via “millions of quality impressions.”
Goear had previously actioned some copyright takedowns, AGEDI said, but it was never enough to keep up with the rate that infringing content reappeared on the site.
After reviewing the case the National Court has now sided with AGEDI. Handing down an order similar to that issued last month in respect of The Pirate Bay, local ISPs have been given just 72 hours to block the site at the subscriber level. Currently the Goear website is hosted in the Netherlands.
“This new resolution adds to the one recently handed down in Spain against The Pirate Bay and confirms web blockades as the only effective measure to eliminate the websites that violate intellectual property rights,” said Promusicae and AGEDI president, Antonio Guisasola.
“The block against Goear means that the site will no longer be able to profit from the works of others. I always insist on the absolute need to act decisively to stop these kinds of sites that represent true unfair competition to other [authorized sites] that offer all the guarantees for consumers and producers of music.”
Whether local users will rush to unblock the site will remain to be seen. There are many dozens of similar portals offering access to the same level of content, none of which appear to be shutting down anytime soon.
In recent years Coppersurfer.tk has quickly become one of the most used BitTorrent trackers.
Running on the beerware-licensed Opentracker software, the standalone tracker offers a non-commercial service which doesn’t host or link to torrent files themselves.
The free service coordinates the downloads of 10 million people at any given point in time, processing roughly billions of connections per month.
However, since last weekend Coppersurfer.tk has been offline. Responding to a complaint from Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, hosting provider LeaseWeb suddenly pulled the plug.
According to a LeaseWeb rep “torrents are illegal” and the company had no other option than to shut down the tracker.
This came as quite a surprise to the operator, since his service doesn’t link to or host torrent files. In fact, Coppersurfer doesn’t know what titles are tracked or where all the corresponding torrents are stored.
Europe’s top cop has taken to the BBC to once again slam encryption as the biggest threat to counter-terrorism and law enforcement.
Europol Director Rob Wainright said encrypted communications gave plods across the continent the biggest headaches, and his main gripe was with the IT companies that provide them.
“We are disappointed by the position taken by these tech firms and it only adds to our problems in getting to the communications of the most dangerous people that are abusing the internet,” he said.
He told the civil liberties committee of the European Parliament the same thing last November. Now he says there is “a significant capability gap” that must be closed.
“It’s changed the very nature of counter-terrorist work from one that has been traditionally reliant on having good monitoring capability of communications to one that essentially doesn’t provide that anymore,” he told the Beeb.
However, Wainright himself will not get his hands on any of that “capability”. According to Europol’s website, the organisation itself “has neither the technical equipment nor the legal authorisation to wiretap or monitor members of the public by any technological means”.
“Any information being analysed by Europol is provided directly by the co-operating law enforcement agencies. Europol’s principal role is to gather, analyse and re-distribute data,” he said in the interview.
That hasn’t stopped EU countries beefing up Europol with a new European Internet Referral Unit to find, identify and potentially remove websites used by terrorist groups.
National leaders across the EU have been calling for increased access to private communications since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. The European Council hopes the new unit will be up and running by June.
Meanwhile, tech companies will continue to boost end-to-end encryption after the Snowden revelations created a business case, as consumers demanded their communications be secured.
Dutch MEP Sophie In’t Veld said she found his comments (which echo those of UK PM David Cameron) extremely worrying. “What is next? Having a lock on the front door of your home being a criminal offence? Banning people from protecting their private communications is unacceptable in a democratic society. We are really on a slippery slope here.”
“Not only individual citizens have a right to privacy, but journalists, politicians, lawyers, whistleblowers, NGOs, etc must be able to communicate freely, safely and knowing they are unobserved,” she added.
“There seems to be no limit to the appetite of secret services to know EVERYTHING about us, without being subject to any meaningful kind of oversight or bound by laws,” continued In’t Veld.
“He believes all of this is caused by the ‘revelations’ on NSA mass surveillance. “One would think it was the secret and illegal mass surveillance itself, not the fact it was revealed, that has breached trust,” said In’t Veld.
Three years ago file-hosting site Ryushare was a rising star in the so-called cyberlocker scene. Operating healthy affiliate and rewards schemes the site became a magnet for those looking to upload popular content.
After mere months online the site was already pressing the market leaders and by early 2013 was looking to break into the Alexa 500. Progress continued for another year but in April 2014 the site suddenly disappeared without explanation.
Rumors began to circulate that the site’s operators had been arrested but it took weeks for the arrival of an official announcement. The Vietnamese government eventually delivered the news that Ryushare had been closed down following the arrest of site owner Nguyen Duc Nhat plus three of his associates. Cars, motorcycles, and around $350,000 were seized.
While arrests are not a particularly unusual development in file-sharing cases, copyright issues weren’t at the heart of the site’s problems. It transpired that the authorities had taken offense at the huge amounts of “depraved content” being made available via the site.