News October 27, 2015

UK Police crack down on illegal sites with warnings

In an effort to crack down on illegal downloading, the City of London Police have come up with a new strategy to block advertisements on piracy websites.

According to BBC News, the strategy is part of their Operation Creative; the new method intends to stop the owners of piracy sites from profiting off advertising and also deter consumers from illegally obtaining media.

Through the use of technology provided by Project Sunblock, the new system works by detecting the content of websites that advertising companies do not want to be associated with. Piracy and pornography-associated sites are prime targets.

Once a site that is on the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU)’s Infringing Websites List (IWL) attempts to display an advert, a police warning will instead appear, courtesy of Project Sunblock.

“When adverts from well known brands appear on illegal websites, they lend them a look of legitimacy and inadvertently fool consumers into thinking the site is authentic,” said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe from the City of London PIPCU.

However, the technology is not without its flaws. Ernesto Van Der Sar, Editor of online piracy news site Torrentfreak, is concerned about its implications.

“As with all blocklists there is a serious risk of overblocking,” he told the BBC. “Without proper oversight, perfectly legal sites may end up losing good advertising opportunities if they are wrongfully included.”

Filtering is effective in lowering the traffic flowing to illegal domains yet, admittedly, is not impenetrable, with many Internet users being able to circumnavigate court imposed restrictions.

The UK courts have ordered Internet service providers to block almost 50 websites associated with the distribution of pirated media via direct download or peer-to-peer sharing.

This latest crackdown looks to diminish the revenue of owners of piracy sites and hit them where it hurts most.

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