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Test case against web-block evader dismissed

By | Published on Friday 10 March 2017


A criminal case being pursued against a computer science student linked to various proxy services that helped people circumvent anti-piracy web-blocks has been dismissed, and the prosecution is seemingly not planning on appealing, according to Torrentfreak.

As previously reported, Callum Haywood was charged just under a year ago with one count of converting/transferring criminal property and six of possessing an article for use in fraud, he having been arrested in 2014 over certain proxy sites he was involved in.

The proxies were helping UK web-users access The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents after those sites had been officially blocked by the big internet service providers as a result of court injunctions secured by the entertainment industry.

Such proxies – and the fact that they can be found so easily via a Google search – greatly hinder the effectiveness of web-blocking as an anti-piracy tactic. Rights owners can get individual proxies added to the web-block injunctions, but new ones will immediately pop up, resulting in another game of Whac-A-Mole for the anti-piracy crew.

It’s somewhat untested as to what action can actually be taken against the people who keep setting up the proxy services, through either the civil or the criminal courts. The prosecution of Haywood, being led by the City Of London Police’s IP Crime Unit, aka PIPCU, was therefore something of a test case.

In a set back for PIPCU, the case was recently dismissed by Nottingham Crown Court. It seems the decision to dismiss was partly the result of confused and conflicting evidence presented by the prosecution during two separate hearings, where different technical explanations of the proxy process were given. The specifics of those conflicting explanations were key in order to link Haywood to the crimes of which he was charged.

The City Of London Police are yet to comment on the case being dismissed, though it seems that they do not plan to appeal. Meanwhile Haywood told TorrentFreak: “I am pleased that [the case] is over, as it was very frustrating. Everyone that I had discussed the case with who had a decent understanding of the technicalities was shocked that it had been allowed to get so far. It is also a disappointment how many resources were wasted in dealing with this case, when there are much more serious actual crimes on our streets”.