Australians could have VPNs blocked under new piracy bill
Under the Australian government’s proposed site-blocking law — the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 — Australians could find their access to VPNs blocked if the service’s “primary purpose” is found by a federal court judge to be facilitating copyright infringement.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and consumer advocacy group, Choice, among others, have raised concerns about the bill’s vagueness as to what it covers. The legislation uses the undefined term “online location” — which could be a VPN, website or cloud storage — and so they’re worried this broad term could see could see many VPN services blocked in Australia.
The EFF said in their submission to the government, the bill seemed to cover not only websites that host copyright infringing content, but also sites that “facilitate the infringement of copyright” or have the “primary purpose” of infringing copyright.
“This could be read to ensnare the operators of Virtual Private Network (VPN) services, some of whom (such as getflix.com.au) specifically market their services for their ability to access blocked or geoblocked content,” the EFF wrote. “Nonetheless VPN services themselves are typically general-purpose Internet services that can be used for many other lawful purposes, and it seems disproportionate to allow these lawful services to be blocked merely on account of the way that they are marketed.”