ISPs "should publish list of blocked sites"

Open Rights Group calls for transparency after The Promo Bay was temporarily blocked

Stewart Mitchell
6 Dec 2012

The Open Rights Group (ORG) has called on ISPs and the music industry to publish lists of the web addresses blocked in a bid to thwart piracy.

ISPs have been ordered to block some sites following court orders concerning sites, such as Newzbin and The Pirate Bay, because they enabled illegal downloading.

While the initial injunctions targeted piracy sites directly, they also allowed other sites to be blocked if they allowed access to sites via alternative addresses, with music industry lobby group the BPI providing ISPs with the rogue addresses.

According to ORG, the lists should be transparent in order to stop legal sites being added to the lists and blocking access on the say-so of the BPI.

We call on ISPs and the BPI to publish the blocking lists in the name of legal transparency and public accountability

The Pirate Bay injunction allows the BPI ask ISP to block “, sub-domains and any other IP address or url whose sole or predominant purpose is to enable or facilitate access to The Pirate Bay website”.

However, this week a site called The Promo Bay was added to the list of sites that were wrapped up with The Pirate Bay, and was blocked by the major UK ISPs.

Although launched by The Pirate Bay, The Promo Bay site is actually a promotional platform for musicians and other creative who are happy for people to download their work in a bid to gain momentum.

ORG believes that with no external scrutiny other sites could be added to the list at the BPI's bidding, and could effectively censor parts of the web that were not meant to be part of injunctions.

"The BPI intends to obtain blocking orders for some 50-100 websites. Each order allows the BPI to create a ban list of clone sites or IP addresses,” said Jim Killock, executive director of ORG. "These ban lists could end up blocking perhaps 500 or more domains and IP addresses, all the at the behest of the BPI.

"There is a clear need for transparency, as mistakes are already being made, and are only being corrected because of public pressure. We call on ISPs and the BPI to publish the blocking lists in the name of legal transparency and public accountability."

We have asked the BPI for more information on how the system works, and are waiting to hear back.

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