Piracy is rampant across the internet, and it’s fairly easy to get involved with the myriad websites offering torrents for you to download and fire up on your favourite clients. It’s a real problem that’s being somewhat curbed by the increasing ease of use of streaming – which makes even a download seem slow in comparison. But that’s not enough for The Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT), who are reportedly putting pressure on ISPs to block access to certain websites entirely.
Sources close to MyBroadband have stated that the SAFACT has issued an ultimatum to all local Internet Service Providers, via the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA). SAFACT wants ISPs to block access to websites containing links to torrents, which allow the download of copyright infringing material. Should their request not be adhered to, SAFACT plans to launch legal action against ISPs that choose not to comply.
There are several issues with this that SAFACT clearly doesn’t understand. Firstly, most of the websites it would presumably want to target are hosted on Cloudfire, which blocks access to the IP addresses of the websites it hosts. This makes it impossible for ISPs to even begin to block access from their side, as they have no idea what to target. Combined with that is the rising popularity of VPN services, which most technically savvy users will likely already be using. This again makes it impossible for ISPs to restrict access, as users on their side will be able to circumvent their measures with ease.
Secondly, there’s a whole bunch of reasons action like this might seem a little extreme. Should SAFACT manage to wrestle control from ISPs over what they’re allowed to serve customers, it opens the floodgates for other branches to start demanding what internet users can and cannot access on services they are paying for. Policing the internet for harmful and illegal content is difficult, but without any sort of clarity (of which there is none here), SAFCT is asking for a blanket ban on websites it deems illegal, without any real say from the people accessing them.
It’s shaky at best, and ISPs are seemingly not ready to comply (based on the grounds that it’s simply too easy to get around measures put in place to stop users).
Last Updated: July 17, 2017