Italian Police blocks sites that had banners to alleged illegal websites
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Deutsch: Italienische Polizei sperrt Seiten mit Bannerwerbung für mutmaßlich ...
The Italian cybercrime police, Guardia di Finanza Agropoli, has recently DNS blocked a series of websites that were offering links to content indexed on BitTorrent, cyberlockers and eDonkey networks. Five of the blocked sites belonged to Italianshare.net network, which were allegedly releasing the links to the movies, games or music before their commercial release. Two more websites that had nothing to do with that network were also blocked.
According to Guardia di Finanza, the sites had advertising and donation accounts operating through PayPal giving the authority the reason to investigate them under commercial piracy and tax evasion accusations. The on-going investigation has led to complaints filed by several anti-piracy groups against the alleged leaders of the websites, resulting in the seizure of their computer equipment.
But also two innocent websites, italianstylewebsite.net and freeplayclub.org, have fallen victim of this action being, apparently by mistake, associated to the investigated sites. The owners of the two websites have both reacted by stating their sites were perfectly legal, their only link with Italianshare.net being an exchange of banners. Their sites hosted only legal links to free downloadable software of computer games.
Furthermore, the two owners stated that they had received no previous warning from the authorities and that initially they thought they had problems with their DNS. Having not received any official notification, they did not even know to whom to address in order to prove the legality of their sites.
Fulvio Sarzana, the lawer of the alleged owner of Italianshare.net network, stated that, after a first analysis, he believed there had been an obvious anomaly of the preventive seizure procedure.
Sarzana's opinion is that the measures taken by the police are incompatible with the free flow of information on the web, as well as the free expression of thought in online forums. "The principle which we must begin with is that any illegality should be suppressed and not encouraged, when you are certain of course, without prejudice and preconceived ideas about the navigability associated with the P2P service which was used for illegal activity. And when the instruments used to preventively suppress are not in the position to harm constitutional values or rights of third parties."
The lawyer warned on the fact that if such preventive seizure can be thus used "without a scrupulous control of alternative means to repress illegal content", this instrument can also be used in cases of defamation through the information media or just blogs. "With a very strong impact upon the freedom of information on the Internet."
Italianshare, the word to the defenders (only in Italian, 17.11.2011)
Free Play Club, a surprise seizure (only in Italian, 16.11.2011)
Italianstylewebsite / another surprise seizure (only in Italian, 17.11.2011)
Italian Anti-Piracy Blockade Takes Legit Sites Offline (18.11.2011)
Cybercrime Police Shut Down Five File-Sharing Sites (11.11.2011)