Jolly rogered

How The Pirate Bay ban was hijacked by the anti-smut brigade


Something for the Weekend, Sir? I note with dismay that the recent High Court ruling to force some ISPs to ban access to The Pirate Bay has been hijacked by lobbyists who are confused about what the interweb does. A classic example was heard on Radio 4's Today on Tuesday, which devoted eight minutes to John Humphrys inexpertly tying himself into a mesh of cross-purposes while his guests patiently try to untangle him.

When it comes to making confused arguments, I'm among the worst offenders. It's like bad baking: you take 500 grammes of evidence, five tonnes of confidence and a knob of butter (snigger), bring them to a nice bubbling assertion and then throw in a shoe.

For me, it's an acquired skill. For other people, it's obviously down to plain ignorance.

Humphrys demonstrated one way of confusing an argument: by ranting about a topic that's fixed in your head even though the discussion is actually about something else. Scott Adams gives a fine example of what I mean.

Humphrys was so fixated on getting across his belief that ISPs are refusing to block illegal websites that he failed to hear the response that ISPs are only refusing to block legal websites. The ISPs' argument is that police and judges are more appropriate bodies than bandwidth salesmen for determining whether a website breaks UK laws.

It's a bit like expecting tarmac-layers to prevent people from speeding on motorways.

Surely a better comeback from Humphreys would be to ask why these same ISPs, for all their claims of independence and integrity, allow their hosting businesses to enthusiastically switch off perfectly honest websites at the slightest whiff of a legal threat, no matter how tentative or bogus. At least, that would be my way of confusing the argument.

Instead, I can see a much worse kind of confusion arising from The Pirate Bay ruling: that it is somehow connected with pornography. This is the result of people with their own agendas using a pretty boring legal story about international copyright infringement as an excuse to go all holy on us.

Immediately, the story is getting mixed up with the government's introduction of the Online Safety Bill, which purports to force ISPs to stop the internet from showing naughty pictures to children. The confusion is compounded by the Bill's key supporter, Claire Perry MP, churning out quotes for every TV channel, radio programme, newswire, newspaper and magazine that mistakenly asks her for her opinion about communication technology.

She was even on that bloody Today item - about The Pirate Bay, remember - offering her views about nudey-dudies jiggling their tackle in front of children. Just to make the listeners even more confused, she started by commenting how The Pirate Bay logo looks similar to the Blue Peter ship.

And so, in three just seconds, by insinuating that The Pirate Bay is in fact a den of infant-groomers, Perry switched the story from copyright infringement to paedophilia.

Why does this keep happening? Some readers may remember an urban myth that arose at the turn of the Millennium. It was said that a thuggish mob attacked a paediatrician's surgery because the plaque outside the door said paedo-something.

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Research finds consumer-grade IoT devices showing up... on corporate networks

    Considering the slack security of such kit, it's a perfect storm

    Increasing numbers of "non-business" Internet of Things devices are showing up inside corporate networks, Palo Alto Networks has warned, saying that smart lightbulbs and internet-connected pet feeders may not feature in organisations' threat models.

    According to Greg Day, VP and CSO EMEA of the US-based enterprise networking firm: "When you consider that the security controls in consumer IoT devices are minimal, so as not to increase the price, the lack of visibility coupled with increased remote working could lead to serious cybersecurity incidents."

    The company surveyed 1,900 IT decision-makers across 18 countries including the UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, finding that just over three quarters (78 per cent) of them reported an increase in non-business IoT devices connected to their org's networks.

    Continue reading
  • Huawei appears to have quenched its thirst for power in favour of more efficient 5G

    Never mind the performance, man, think of the planet

    MBB Forum 2021 The "G" in 5G stands for Green, if the hours of keynotes at the Mobile Broadband Forum in Dubai are to be believed.

    Run by Huawei, the forum was a mixture of in-person event and talking heads over occasionally grainy video and kicked off with an admission by Ken Hu, rotating chairman of the Shenzhen-based electronics giant, that the adoption of 5G – with its promise of faster speeds, higher bandwidth and lower latency – was still quite low for some applications.

    Despite the dream five years ago, that the tech would link up everything, "we have not connected all things," Hu said.

    Continue reading
  • What is self-learning AI and how does it tackle ransomware?

    Darktrace: Why you need defence that operates at machine speed

    Sponsored There used to be two certainties in life - death and taxes - but thanks to online crooks around the world, there's a third: ransomware. This attack mechanism continues to gain traction because of its phenomenal success. Despite admonishments from governments, victims continue to pay up using low-friction cryptocurrency channels, emboldening criminal groups even further.

    Darktrace, the AI-powered security company that went public this spring, aims to stop the spread of ransomware by preventing its customers from becoming victims at all. To do that, they need a defence mechanism that operates at machine speed, explains its director of threat hunting Max Heinemeyer.

    According to Darktrace's 2021 Ransomware Threat Report [PDF], ransomware attacks are on the rise. It warns that businesses will experience these attacks every 11 seconds in 2021, up from 40 seconds in 2016.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021