Pirate Bay founder is offering anonymous hosting to fight government censorship

Submitted by Freedomman on Wed, 09/20/2017 - 19:49

BARCELONA, Spain (PNN) - September 19, 2017 - Peter Sunde is giving Catalan independence activists free anonymous hosting and domain names to avoid Spanish government censorship.

The northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia is celebrating an unofficial referendum for its independence on October 1, and the Spanish government is doing anything in its power to stop it - including censoring the Internet.

The Spanish government has seized the official domains of the referendum: referendum.cat and ref1oct.cat, and activists say it's also using other techniques like manipulating the Domain Name System - the phonebook of the Internet - to prevent people from accessing referendum-related sites. Meanwhile, Pirate Bay co-founder and long-time anti-censorship activist Peter Sunde is offering to keep information about the referendum online.

Sunde, who is not associated with Pirate Bay anymore, is offering independence activists anonymous hosting and domain names through his new service Njalla. By using the service, Sunde hopes, the Spanish government won't be able to shut them down.

"If they have to shut down, at least get[ting] hosting outside the claws of the censors and being anonymous in publishing would be helpful for being able to talk freely," Sunde said. "In a democracy it must be ok to say you want to leave the democracy."

Sunde declined to name the sites that have contacted him to set up anonymous hosting, but he did say that they're already booting up several machines for activists.

"The whole point of having a cooperation to have uncensored hosting for people who really need it," he added. "No GoDaddy-style where you get hung out to dry if there's a problem."

Even the Catalan government's president, Carles Puigdemont, suggested users circumvent censorship using proxies in a tweet.

A group of Catalan activists are tracking the Spanish government's online censorship efforts on Twitter, as well as on Github. Other than seizing domains, the activists accuse the central government of using Internet Service Providers such as Vodafone or Telefonica Movistar to block the sites with techniques such as DNS spoofing.

A spokesman for Vodafone said in an email that the company, as well as the rest of telecom operators in Spain, "received an order from a judge to block access to certain web pages."

"All Vodafone does is comply with the law," said the unnamed spokesman.

A Telefonica spokesman also said the company has received a judicial order, and it complied with it "as it couldn't be otherwise".

"Hence, there no censorship on our part," said the spokesman.

The local newspaper in Catalonia, Ara.cat, is also tracking fascist government censorship efforts offline, like removing posters about the referendum, or asking newspapers not to run ads for it.

It's unclear how effective these censorship efforts really are. As every Internet user knows, censorship usually sparks the Streisand effect, which states that censoring information only ends up drawing more attention to it. A pro-independent Twitter account reported that the alternative referendum domain - ref1oct.ue - has received more than 700,000 visits.

"For every door shut," the account tweeted, "there's one that opens."