The Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT) has reportedly asked Internet service providers in the country to block access to sites which aid in copyright infringement.
This is according to sources who spoke to MyBroadband on condition of anonymity.
They said SAFACT has informed the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) that it may consider legal action if ISPs do not agree to its proposal.
The federation provided a short list of sites to block as a first phase to assess the impact of implementing its request.
It is understood that the list comprised of multiple torrent indexers.
A torrent index is a searchable reference for collections of files that other BitTorrent users are sharing.
The website or index does not host the files, but points to torrents, which point to BitTorrent trackers, which in turn point to “seeds”.
To download the files, a BitTorrent client is needed to load a torrent file (or interpret a magnet link), query the trackers, and connect to peers sharing the files.
It is understood that ISPs said there are technical challenges with blocking the listed domains, which includes many of the sites using Cloudflare.
Cloudflare hides the IP addresses of sites on its platform, which means it is not possible to block the IP addresses of sites which use the service.
Another problem is that consumers who use torrent sites are typically tech-savvy, and can bypass most filters from local ISPs using VPN services.
The Opera browser, for example, has a built-in VPN, which will render the SAFACT blocking proposal useless.
The SAFACT proposal will also make it the responsibility of ISPs to block the listed sites, which can be costly and resource-intensive.
ISP owners who spoke to MyBroadband have dismissed the SAFACT proposal as an ineffective way to address online piracy.
ISPA and SAFACT declined to comment on the reported proposal.