Italian Police blocks sites that had banners to alleged illegal websites

By EDRi · November 30, 2011

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Italienische Polizei sperrt Seiten mit Bannerwerbung für mutmaßlich illegale Inhalte |]

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 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, and, 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 being an exchange of banners. Their
sites hosted only legal links to free downloadable software of computer

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

Fulvio Sarzana, the lawer of the alleged owner of
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)