Many websites crippled in Austria

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As part of the ancillary copyright enforcement, the music portal CannaPower has been blocked in Austria. The problem: Instead of a domain block, an IP block was applied, so many uninvolved sites that shared an IP address with CannaPower were also no longer accessible.

Many non-concerned sites affected

The problems were noticed on Sunday evening, when suddenly, for example, the website of an online store was no longer accessible from Austria; via VPN, these blocks can be circumvented. For the first time, not only a domain but an IP address had been blocked under ancillary copyright. This is problematic, however, because an IP address usually hosts more than one website. Websites that share an IP address have nothing more in common than the host, in this case Cloudflare. The IP blocking therefore also resulted in damages for the uninvolved parties.

In the meantime, the blocks have been removed, but the incident is still the subject of intensive discussion, as it highlights the problems associated with network blockages. Dominik Polakovics, spokesman for the civil rights organization Epicenter.works summed up the situation in a comparison as follows: “What was happening yesterday on the Internet in Austria is like blocking an entire high-rise building or a mall because something was stolen from a store.” This overblocking obviously poses a huge problem, as it also interferes with the rights of viewers. Epicenter.works therefore accused Austrian politicians of massive omissions in the incident and lamented the lack of a clear legal framework for network blocking.

Solutions requested

In addition to Epicentre.works, other organizations have also called for uniform specifications for regulating network blocking. In this regard, the service provider Magenta pointed out that since a decision by the highest court, there was no longer a declarative procedure with which the admissibility of a blockage was checked beforehand. In concrete terms, this means that providers are directly obliged to implement blocking orders – even if, as in the present case, these entail consequences which go beyond those intended. In this context, the pressure group representing the interests of the Austrian Internet industry called for the responsibility of an independent authority.

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