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China Cracks Down on Unauthorized Internet Connections 

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Sijia Jiang | HONG KONG – China is reinforcing its censorship of the internet with a campaign to crack down on unauthorized connections, including virtual private network (VPN) services, that allow users to bypass restrictions known as the Great Firewall.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a notice on its website on Sunday that it is launching a nationwide clean-up campaign aimed at internet service provider (ISP), internet data centrer (IDC), and content delivery network (CDN) companies.

It ordered checks for companies operating without government licenses or beyond the scope of licenses.

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The ministry said it was forbidden to create or rent communication channels, including VPNs, without governmental approval, to run cross-border operations.

VPNs can be used to gain access to blocked websites.

China has the world’s largest population of internet users – now at 731 million people – and is home to some of the biggest internet firms such as Tencent Holdings, Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Greenberg: Inside Popcorn Time, the Piracy Party Hollywood Can’t Stop

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Popcorn Time’s BitTorrent-for-dummies approach has become the virtually undisputed future of video piracy

 reports: Popcorn Time was an instant hit when it launched just over a year ago: The video streaming service made BitTorrent piracy as easy as Netflix, but with far more content and none of those pesky monthly payments. Hollywood quickly intervened, pressuring Popcorn Time’s Argentinian developers to walk away from their creation. But anonymous coders soon relaunched the copyright-flouting software. Today, Popcorn Time is growing at a rate that has likely surpassed the original, and the people behind it say they’re working on changes designed to make the service virtually impervious to law enforcement.

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 “We’re like Google. scraping for new content all over the internet.”

— Popcorn Time’s anonymous developer, known here by the popcorn-box mascot name “Pochoclin”

As Popcorn Time celebrated the first anniversary of its rebirth, WIRED chatted via email and instant message with a software developer from Popcorn-Time.se, one of the most popular of several reincarnations of Popcorn Time. (The anonymous developer asked us to use Popcorn Time’s smiling popcorn-box mascot “Pochoclin” as his or her pseudonym.) Popcorn Time’s masked spokesperson says the streaming movie and TV app is flourishing—in defiance of many of the world’s most powerful copyright holders and EURid, the domain registrar that seized the original site’s web domain last year.

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“After everything we went through, this will be our sweetest revenge.”

— Anonymous Popcorn Time spokesperson

Popcorn-Time.se, Pochoclin says, has millions of users and is growing at the mind-bending rate of 100,000 downloads per day. He or she also hinted that a forthcoming switch to a peer-to-peer architecture will make the service far harder for copyright cops to attack. “We’re at the threshold of one of the most exciting times since we started this project,” Pochoclin writes. “Making all our data available via p2p will mean that Popcorn Time will no longer rely on domains and centralized servers but only on its user base.”

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“After everything we went through,” Pochoclin said, “this will be our sweetest revenge and our biggest victory.”

When Popcorn-Time.se started responding to WIRED’s questions in November, Pochoclin said the reborn project already had 4 million users. But it had taken a serious hit a few months earlier, when Brussels-based domain registrar EURid revoked its website domain, Time4Popcorn.eu. At its new Swedish domain, it’s only recently returned to that earlier adoption rate. (Pochoclin wouldn’t reveal the size of its current user base for fear of drawing more attention from law enforcement or copyright holders.) “[EURid’s domain seizure] was just a small setback … a small but painful kick to the balls,” the spokesperson says. “We’ve grown this project tremendously since we picked it up … The numbers just keep rising.”

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A chart of Google searches for Popcorn Time over the last year, showing its quick growth since the shutdown of the original site in March of last year. (Source: Google Trends, which shows only relative search trends rather than absolute numbers of searches.)

For any other year-old startup, those numbers would seem ludicrous. But Popcorn Time is giving away Hollywood’s most valuable content for free, and making that piracy easier than ever. Download Popcorn Time’s app and in seconds you’re offered a slick menu of streaming TV shows and movies at least as easy to navigate as Netflix or Hulu—but with higher-quality video and hundreds of recent movies and TV shows paid services don’t offer. Read the rest of this entry »


Another Internet Privacy Company Ends Service To Avoid Government Surveillance

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 writes:  Remember Lavabit and Silent Circle, the encrypted email providers that closed their doors because they faced government pressure to enable government snooping on their customers (Silent Circle still offers other privacy CryptoSealservices)? Well, you can addCryptoSeal to the mix. The company has ended its CryptoSeal Privacy virtual private network (VPN) service (it still offers enterprise-lever services), which was advertised as “keeps prying eyes off of your internet usage while you’re at home, in a coffee shop or even another country,” also over concerns about the legal environment and government snooping.

According to a note on the CryptoSeal site:

With immediate effect as of this notice, CryptoSeal Privacy, our consumer VPN service, is terminated.  All cryptographic keys used in the operation of the service have been zerofilled, and while no logs were produced (by design) during operation of the service, all records created incidental to the operation of the service have been deleted to the best of our ability.

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How to defeat the ‘Great Firewall of China’ with an iPhone

450-TopologyVisitors to China are often perplexed to find that they can’t access TwitterFacebook or other sites. The reason isn’t that they don’t have access to cellular or WiFi networks; instead, it’s state censorship and surveillance courtesy of the Golden Shield Project, aka “The Great Firewall of China.” Roman Loyola at TechHive recently visited Beijing and used the trip as a research opportunity to see how visitors with iPhones can bypass the Great Firewall and tweet their trip to friends back home.

It turns out to be somewhat easy; you just need to have an unlocked GSM iPhone and then purchase a SIM card when you arrive in China. Before you leave, though, you also need to sign up for a virtual private network (VPN) service. Loyola highlights two in particular — Express VPN and AirVPN — and taps Express VPN as being much easier to set up.

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