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Piracy Shield 2.0: why we need a new anti-piracy system

Piracy Shield 2.0: why we need a new anti-piracy system

As we know, our country has decided to equip itself with one anti-piracy platform which sees AGCOM, the Communications Guarantee Authority, as the main protagonist. In December 2023 we explained how the AGCOM platform works to combat pirated streaming. This is a solution strongly supported by the Serie A League and by rights holders for the broadcast of live sporting events.

The idea is to block the spread unauthorized online posting of content protected by Copyright within a few minutes of the arrival of each report. The interventions, which involve the telecommunications operators Europens, require the imposition of blocks at the level of IP addresses. Requesting “censorship” at DNS server level, in fact, is no longer enough: this is why AGCOM prescribes that providers, upon order of the Authority, block thetraffic routing network towards IP addresses uniquely intended for illicit activities. Note the use of the important adverb “uniquely“.

AGCOM anticipates the arrival of the new Piracy Shield 2.0, by the end of 2024

The platform developed by the Serie A League, then donated to AGCOM, has however shown all its advantages limits already after a few months of “operation”. It is no secret that the enormous amount of reports received and the technical mechanisms underlying Piracy Shield (this is the name of the Europen anti-piracy platform), have caused quite a few management problems.

Although fined by AGCOM itself for not having cooperated by communicating the list of its associates, Assoprovider had requested access to the list of inhibition measures. The organization representing a good number of Internet providers has always opposed the Piracy Shield, observing that with the application of access restrictions at the IP address level, even subjects who have no connection with piracy activities would have been penalized, causing damage to their legitimate interests and their business.

We go back to that adverb “uniquely“, which we mentioned previously. It often happens that the same public IP address is used to provide the services of completely different entities, who certainly don’t even know each other.

The AGCOM Commissioner Massimiliano Capitanioduring his speech at Serie A Festival (Parma), observed that Piracy Shield – albeit under the weight of the data to manage – worked well. At least overall. In short, according to Capitanio, the approach followed would be the right one: however, now there is a need to resolve some technical critical issues.

This is why, and this is the news, AGCOM is working on Piracy Shield 2.0a revised and improved version of the anti-piracy platform that should see the light by the end of 2024.

There is a cultural problem, yes, but many critical points remain on the technical side

Capitanio, during his speech, observed that there is a the cultural problem. Suffice it to say that many individuals have also used pirated streaming services to watch events broadcast free-to-air. What does this mean? That many users are accustomed to searching for any type of content on the “black market”: even low-cost books. Having an Internet subscription certainly does not entitle you to use content that is protected by copyright without paying the required subscription fee, where this is requested by the rights holder.

Apart from the cultural problem that actually exists and on which it is appropriate to act, the mainly technical aspects remain. Solutions that can potentially harm third parties, unrelated to any type of illicit activity, cannot in any case be endorsed.

Furthermore, it is also true that in the case of pirated broadcasts the speed of the application of effective countermeasures is essential, but Piracy Shield requires an administrative authority to provide the providers with information on the IPs to be blocked, without any prior verification by the judicial authority.

Again, the traffic and VPN it cannot be considered “suspicious” regardless, otherwise we would inevitably find ourselves in the antechamber of a police state. VPNs are precious tools that, every day, are also used by companies and professionals to protect personal data and confidential information. Especially to exchange data between branches and with devices connected to networks managed by third parties (and potentially unreliable).

Source code and periodic audits

In the past we had already asked ourselves whether the source code of the Piracy Shield platform would be made public. For the purposes of the maxim transparencyIn fact, several observers have repeatedly highlighted the opportunity to proceed in this direction. On the other hand, the entity that supports the platform is always a public body.

Although this point has never been clarified, a currently unknown individual decided to make public on GitHub – without any authorization – the code of the current version of Piracy Shield, together with all the accompanying technical documents. A few months later, the code is incredibly still there.

The other “hot” point concerns the programming of periodic audits. Given the “delicacy” of the topic and the severe sanctions to which both the subjects who distribute pirated content and those who use it are exposed, several experts agree on the opportunity of subjecting Piracy Shield to periodic analyzes by independent team of specialists.

The aspect linked to safety of the platform, in fact, must inevitably be considered of priority importance. Also to avoid any possible abuseat any level.

Opening image credit: iStock.com – Stadium

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