Attempts to block The Pirate Bay in the UK fail

18 March 2015

UK citizens can access the Pirate Bay without having to circumvent service provider-installed blockades due to the site's new relationship with Cloudflare.

The Pirate Bay was shut down in December 2014 following a raid on its host (See: File sharing site The Pirate Bay collapses after police crackdown in Sweden).

However in February it bounced back as fans cheered its return on social media, amid suggestions that things did not look quite right, one of which was its association with Cloudflare (File sharing site The Pirate Bay online again after two months). 

However, that relationship seemed to have come with the benefit of giving the site and its access to magnet files an air of respectability. According to TorrentFreak, blocks had dropped to the .SE domain all over the place, and it could confirm that access through the Virgin Media internet service was as smooth as one liked.

TorrentFreak believed that it was the simple addition of the S to HTTP that had cleared the for landing on UK computers without requring a proxy. It spoke to the operator of a proxy site, who too suspected the same.

The operator of a block-dodging TPB proxy explained to TorrentFreak that he believed it was because of how CloudFlare worked. Simply put, when one enabled HTTPS Strict on CloudFlare they removed the HTTP header from the request during HTTPS connections, thus when one tried to inspect the header to a list of 'banned' websites it would not register".

So called web-block injunctions had been available under UK law for a while now, to allow the music and movie industries to force ISPs to block access to websites that judges agreed existed primarily to promote and enable copyright infringement. Numerous file-sharing sites were now blocked by the major UK ISPs due to such injunctions.

Though file-sharing services keep emerging at new locations, or proxies meant to circumvent the blocks appeared, content owners and ISPs needed to keep track of all the changes in order to ensure the blockades stayed in place.

However, it seemed Pirate Bay blocks recently stopped working on at least the BT, EE, Virgin and TalkTalk networks, most likely because The Pirate Bay had switched to an SSL service provided by US company CloudFlare, which made the HTTPS version of the website (rather than the HTTP version) the default.

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