Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof issued a rather unusual press release on Thursday. Instead of regular company updates, it explained in detail how sites such as The Pirate Bay can be unblocked. While Bahnhof doesn’t block the site itself, the guide does come in handy for its customers.
Most Internet service providers do their best to keep the peace with copyright holders. Swedish ISP Bahnhof is not one of them.
The company has been a fierce opponent of copyright trolling, invasive data retention laws, and website blocking. At Bahnhof, user-privacy and unrestricted access to the Internet take priority.
Still, when the company published a detailed unblocking guide in a press release on Thursday, we were caught by surprise.
“There are Internet service providers who have been ordered by the Patent and Market Court to block DNS, of The Pirate Bay site for example, and that means you can not access that page no matter how much you try,” Bahnhof begins.
These blockades, such as the one ordered against Telia last month, prevent people from going to The Pirate Bay, FMovies, or any other restricted sites. Ideally, that should stop them from pirating ever again, but Bahnhof has its doubts.
“This is how it’s supposed to work. Someone surfing to a blocked site thinks ‘damn, now I can’t access it, no more movie downloading for me’. But, of course, it does not work like that in real life. It’s easy to get around a blockade if you are using a VPN or change your DNS servers. Let’s explain.”
The ISP goes into detail about how people can set up a VPN to avoid censorship, offering a step-by-step guide. In addition, it points out that changing one’s DNS servers may already be sufficient to bypass simple site blockades.
Initially, we assumed that Bahnhof was only trying to be helpful, telling their competitors’ customers how they can access blocked sites. However, this perspective changed yesterday.
As it turns out, Bahnhof has also been ordered to block several ‘pirate’ domains. Following a lawsuit from academic publisher Elsevier, it now has to ban Sci-Hub and Libgen, among others.
As we reported previously, the company isn’t taking this lightly, to say the least.
While the company can’t evade the blocking order itself, it can point out how its subscribers can do so. And that’s exactly what their press release does.