Following the European Court of Justice ruling on the UPC Telekabel v Constantin in April 2014, Austrian internet access providers have started “blocking” several websites. In the case in question, the Court established that an injunction may be imposed on an internet access provider (ISP) “prohibiting an internet service provider from allowing” its customers access to a website “when that injunction does not specify the measures which that access provider must take”.
Users who tried to sync and update an iPod with music from the likes of Amazon or 7Digital were told there was an error with their iPod that could only be solved with a factory restore through iTunes, which completely wiped the iPod.
A domain name system error directed all the internet traffic from China - 13,000 requests per second - to one small firm in North Carolina. What happens if a significant proportion of all the web traffic in China gets directed to one server? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer is “that server dies a rapid death”.
Craig Hockenberry, the senior software engineer for developers Iconfactory, reports that in the end, he was forced to block all traffic coming from China in order to keep the site up and running. “I’m a big believer in the power of an open and freely accessible internet: I don’t take blocking traffic from innocent people lightly. But in this case, it’s the only thing that worked.
The Global Times newspaper in Beijing reported that China announced it is "upgrading" its Internet censorship to disrupt VPN services inside the nation of 1.3 billion people. The Great Firewall of China has long blocked those within the country from reaching popular international sites such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. To get around it, people must purchase access to a virtual private network, or VPN. These services allow a user to create a private pipeline to the Internet, bypassing China's online censors.
Under Chinese law, companies and individuals that use VPN services are required to register with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, though few do. Astrill, one of the more popular VPN providers in China tweeted that "due to increased censorship in China," VPN usage on Apple devices was being blocked "in almost real-time."
Access joined EFF, Global Voices Advocacy, New America’s Open Technology Institute, and Ferrari & Associates, P.C. in a letter calling for the OFAC—the agency charged with enforcing the sanctions—to issue a general license that would protect internet users.
The Crimea sanctions require American technology firms, including Google, to stop updating software, to terminate small business applications, to shut down web hosting accounts, and to deny other services to users they believe are located in the affected region. Journalists, human rights defenders, and ordinary people living in Crimea – or even just traveling there – depend on a variety of information services, software, and hardware that are covered by these sanctions. The sanctions add barriers for information technology, drastically impacting free expression and privacy, and only contribute to the isolation and instability in the region. Not only are basic personal communications tools such as email and cryptography software impacted, but Google has stopped updating its popular Chrome browser in the region. This means that computer security is threatened by the blocking.
Following a European trend, the Portuguese Intellectual Property Court has ordered local ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay. The legal action, brought by copyright holders, resulted in an injunction which orders the ISPs to block access to the popular torrent site and dozens of its proxies.
Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site and the list continues to expand. Last month French ISPs started blocking The Pirate Bay and last week the Intellectual Property Court in Portugal ordered a similar measure against local Internet providers.