The Pirate Bay sells out… maybe.

July 2, 2009

Source: The Pirate Bay mostly.

Pirate Bay logo

Famed defenders of file-sharing has reportedly sold out to the tune of $8M US, and there have been some backlash among the torrent community. But TBP says it all for the better.

All hands abandon ship? Word came down the wires yesterday (June 30, 2009) that The Pirate Bay, historic torrent-tracker and copyright nightmare, has been sold to Swedish company Global Gaming Factory X (GGF). It should be noted that the sale has not yet occurred. It is only scheduled for August 2009, during which either side may change their minds.

TPB’s reason behind the sale:

We’ve been working on this project for many years. It’s time to invite more people into the project, in a way that is secure and safe for everybody. We need that, or the site will die. And letting TPB die is the last thing that is allowed to happen!

Also, TorrentFreak reports that TPB is looking to decentralize its operations by outsourcing its torrent hosting and tracking.


Pirate Booty. Among the major changes may be an inventive way to make file-sharing more “legitimate;” Actually pay users to share files, and even give copyright holders their fair share:

BBC – Mr Pandeya said that one of the biggest hurdles in overcoming illegal file-sharing was that there was zero cost to the users, while legitimate sites required users to pay for content. The only way to make something more attractive than free was to pay users to share files.

“The copyright holder still gets paid, the users still get their file, the ISP doesn’t have a million people all grabbing a file and – for the users who share that song – a payment for putting that file on the P2P network.”

TorrentFreak – The company says that after it has completed the acquisition it will launch new business models so that copyright owners get paid, which is clearly a huge diversion from TPB’s previous modus operandi.

“We would like to introduce models which entail that content providers and copyright owners get paid for content that is downloaded via the site,” said Hans Pandeya, CEO GGF.

“The Pirate Bay is a site that is among the top 100 most visited Internet sites in the world. However, in order to live on, The Pirate Bay requires a new business model, which satisfies the requirements and needs of all parties, content providers, broadband operators, end users, and the judiciary,” said Pandeya.

“Content creators and providers need to control their content and get paid for it. File sharers’ need faster downloads and better quality,” he added.

Exactly HOW these pay-outs are going to be made… ?


Will it be worth it? There have been some people who have already abandoned ship upon hearing the news of the sale… some 4000 out of 3.7M registered users… and even some nasty comments on their blog. But TBP says it will all be worth it, since ISPs will also get paid for the bandwidth use and upgrades, and other groups can also benefit:

The profits from the sale will go into a foundation that is going to help with projects about freedom of speech, freedom of information and the openess of the nets. I hope everybody will help out in that and realize that this is the best option for all. Don’t worry – be happy!

That’s probably what they said about the “new” Napster.

We won’t know until August if the sale is worth it. That’s IF nobody has second thoughts before then.

This post has been filed under News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Reports from The Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference

May 24, 2008

Two reports by Wired’s Ryan Singel from the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference held this week in New Haven, CT has some tidbits that may be of some interest…

Computers deciding humans’ fate… poorly.

This article from yesterday (22-May-2008) is about a panel discussing how computers are making decisions about people.

What happens when Google’s AdSense reads an email from your boyfriend telling you it’s just not working out, and AdSense is smart enough o display ads suggesting a good therapist or a dating site? Is it possible to say then that AdSense is actually reading your email?

And if so, could AdSense at that point be considered a legal agent, capable of breaking wiretapping laws?

And, that intelligence raises other liability questions for companies like Google or ISPs that begin trying to examine and filter the traffic that flows through their pipes,…

No fate but what we make for ourselves? Our ever-growing dependence on computers in our lives and jobs has now reached a whole new level of misguidance. It’s not that computers themselves are making important decisions, but they are all too offen making the WRONG decisions, based on what’s being reported with Colorado’s public benefits system:

(Danielle) Citron cited Colorado’s public benefits computer system that judged whether people were eligible for Medicaid and food stamps.

For more than three years, the system asked applicants questions and spit out decisions. Only the system had more than 900 incorrect policy decisions built into its code.

The result: Bad decisions, with no human oversight. And the panel expects the problem to worsen as more decisions are made by computers with less human intervention, unless an open-source solution is implemented where the policies in the system’s coding can be checked for compliance.


ISPs engaged in content filtering may be committing a felony.

Hopefully, you noticed that line about Google’s AdSense system being able to break wiretapping laws. Paul Ohm, a University of Colorado law professor and a former federal computer crimes prosecutor, claimed that Comcast, AT&T, and Charter Communications may actually be breaking the law by sniffing data packets:

University of Colorado law professor Paul Ohm, a former federal computer crimes prosecutor, argues that ISPs such as Comcast, AT&T and Charter Communications that are or are contemplating ways to throttle bandwidth, police for copyright violations and serve targeted ads by examining their customers’ internet packets are putting themselves in criminal and civil jeopardy.

These schemes all seem to violate the Wiretap Act, a federal statute banning eavesdropping that comes with criminal and civil penalties. That law has some exceptions for service providers to monitor content, but only when necessary to deliver service, or to protect the company’s “rights and property.”

No immunity for you, Big Brother! Even while king Duh’bya is pushing retroactive immunity for telcos who assisted with his criminal/unconstitutional domestic spying program (which even John McCain supports), the system administrators may still face criminal charges according to Ohm:

“Not only is this a five-year felony, it also has individual accountability,” Ohm said. “The sys admin could be sued individually and prosecuted individually If you are asked by your manager to go and do this kind of monitoring, you yourself may be legally exposed.”

The company gets immunity, the sysadmin gets screwed. Welcome to corporate America.

This post has been filed under News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

VeriChip sell-off: Spychips unprofitable?

May 22, 2008

Some may see this as a positive sign in the war against the security-surveillance grid of the United Police-States. Others may see this as a sad sign of controversy winning out over progress. One thing is for certain, VeriChip may be in financial trouble and can’t afford the research and development of the implantable tags. Stories come from sites like Wired, RFID Update, and RFID Journal. They have additional links to more information of VeriChip’s apparent dissolution.

Future for sale… cheap. Last week VeriChip sold its Canadian-based subsidiary, Xmark, to Stanley Works for $45M US. Now VeriChip has hired the investment banking firm Kaufman Brothers to help sell the VeriMark Health Link division… and possibly the rest of its assets.

Why the sell-off? From the RFID Journal:

Last month, VeriChip rebranded its VeriMed system, renaming it Health Link, and launched a three-month advertising campaign to market its services directly to potential end users in southern Florida (our story on VeriChip pushing spychips on old farts). According to Scott Silverman, VeriChip’s CEO and chairman, the initiative included a partnership with hearing care provider HearUSA, with a goal of signing up 1,000 new customers.

Assuming we reach our goal of 1,000, we are prepared to expand,” Silverman told RFID Journal in April, noting that HearUSA has locations throughout the country. “If, three months from now, nobody gets the chip, we will have to look at our business model.”

VeriChip’s implantable business, however, only generated $3,000 in revenue in the quarter ending March 31, 2008, during which the company saw a $1.9 million loss. According to a press statement released by Stanley, Xmark generates annual revenues in excess of $30 million, so without that revenue, VeriChip’s implantable business would be unsustainable.

In other words, the RFID implant market isn’t as profitable as VeriChip believed. The idea of the implantable chips was to provide “lifetime identification.” As Bruce Sterling points out:

Just for the record, lifetime computer chip implantation requires a “lifetime computer chip” infrastructure. There aren’t any. They don’t exist and maybe can’t exist.

Anyone who wants to be implanted with a genuine VeriChip better act fast, before the company is sold off.

This post has been filed under News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

VeriChip to push spy-chips on old farts

April 23, 2008

Blogs from ZDNet reports the RFID-chip makers VeriChip is planning to push the implantable spy-chips directly to the South-Florida public in a campaign blitz targeting seniors beginning April 28. VeriChip’s idea is to link the chip to the person’s medical records. Larry Dignan believes this to be a good idea, allowing patients easier access to their personal medical records. On the other hand, Dana Blankenhorn expresses the usual concerns about their use, especially with seniors without Alzheimer’s:

* How much memory on this chip? Enough to get my full health record on it? How about my allergies and basic condition?
* How difficult is it to write to the chip? What about its security?
* How common will readers be?
* Who controls what gets written on the chip? Can it be hacked? Conversely, can it be accessed when needed?
* Can the chip be cloned? (Clone me, Doctor Memory!)

Larry asks some other good questions, although there are some long-running controversies he doesn’t address:

1. Is this really the mark of the beast?
2. Could the government use it to track and trap us?
3. What if the chip insertion site gets infected? What if the chip moves?
4. Could the VeriChip cause cancer?
5. Is this just a scam by former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson?

There’s a sucker born every minute. VeriChip is counting on that during their ad-blitz where convenience can override paranoia about the chips (particularly the cancer risk). And if that blitz succeeds? From Blankenhorn:

If the present marketing effort succeeds the company is bound to push for chipping everyone, given the chance of violence or accidents in our society.

Instant surveillance grid, with everyone under the microscope.

Current chips are nothing more than a number that needs to be tied to your personal records in some corp-government database. The next chips may have memory, possibly recording devices, to store your (deviant) thoughts for use against you, as a way to resurrect or clone you if you die (Altered Carbon reference), or for someone to make a Final Cut of your life.

Right now, the jury is out to see if the campaign can con enough geezers into getting implanted. Hopefully not.

This post has been filed under News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Hackers get hacked, or Turnabout is fair play

April 15, 2008

Joel Eriksson hacks hackers @ RSA Conference

Joel Ericksson at the RSA Conference, where he shows how he hacks the hackers. Black-hats are getting nervous.

Tit for tat. Wired’s Ryan Singel reports from the RSA Security Conference in San-Fran and gives us a dose of hope for all those whose systems have been nailed by malware:

Eriksson, a researcher at the Swedish (Norwegian?) security firm Bitsec, uses reverse-engineering tools to find remotely exploitable security holes in hacking software. In particular, he targets the client-side applications intruders use to control Trojan horses from afar, finding vulnerabilities that would let him upload his own rogue software to intruders’ machines.

He demoed the technique publicly for the first time at the RSA conference Friday.

“Most malware authors are not the most careful programmers,” Eriksson said. “They may be good, but they are not the most careful about security.”

In other words, he uses hacker tactics to hack and pwn hacker’s systems. Confused yet?


How he RAT-ed the rat: Ericksson used a software package called a remote administration tool, or RAT, along with some standard hacking utilities to do his counterstrike:

Eriksson first attempted the technique in 2006 with Bifrost 1.1, a piece of free hackware released publicly in 2005. Like many so-called remote administration tools, or RATs, the package includes a server component that turns a compromised machine into a marionette, and a convenient GUI client that the hacker runs on his own computer to pull the hacked PC’s strings.

Using traditional software attack tools, Eriksson first figured out how to make the GUI software crash by sending it random commands, and then found a heap overflow bug that allowed him to install his own software on the hacker’s machine.

Eriksson believes his techniques can even be used to fubar botnets as well. “If there is a vulnerability, it is still game over for the hacker,” Eriksson said (in the Wired report).

The hacker wars are just warming up…

This post has been filed under News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.