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The popular BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay (TPB) has been briefly knocked off the Net a couple of days ago by an order of a Swedish court to an upstream provider of TPB-owned AS13214 network. While the website reappeared after just a couple of hours on a new IP address, the trackers are still offline as I’m writing this.

As a WAN network administrator, I’m of course curious what’s going on, so I did a couple of diagnostics.

Apparently, traceroute from all possible locations to the trackers end up at most at the next Tier-1 backbone (e.g. Level3, Sprint, Qwest). Using the looking glasses of those backbones, and looking for the BGP route for 194.71.107.0/24 (the website), and for 192.121.86.0/24 (the trackers), it became obvious that the route to the website is properly BGP-advertised, while the route to the trackers isn’t.

No BGP advertisement for 192.121.86.0/24 simply means that there is no global route to the subnet hosting the TPB trackers (neither tracker.thepiratebay.org nor tracker.openbittorrent.com).

There have been some conspiracy theories about some Tier-1 networks blocking TPB, but IMHO, the problem is nearer to AS13214, and that Tier-1 backbones have nothing to do with that. My personal speculation is that after someone sabotaged Black Internet, TPB’s upstream provider, the route for 192.121.86.0/24 flapped continuously, and has been subjected to BGP route flap dampening, at least initially. Later, someone up the chain of ASes could have dropped the advertisement manually (censorship?), or, AS13214’s upstream has simply not advertised this route anymore for unknown reasons. The route to 192.121.86.0/24 doesn’t show up as dampened in the looking glasses of the major Tier-1 backbones (so far as they provide this command).

In case you’re interested, this is the BGP routing table entry for the working TPB website subnet 194.71.107.0/24, as seen from Level3’s router in Frankfurt, Germany:

BGP routing table entry for 194.71.107.0/24
Paths: (2 available, best #2)
  1257 30912 21202 35706 35100 13214
  AS-path translation: { SWIPNET DCSnet-GLOBAL-TRANSIT-AS DCSnet-AS NAO PatrikWeb-Core DCP-AS }
    edge3.Frankfurt1 (metric 41)
      Origin IGP, metric 100000, localpref 86, valid, internal
      Community: Europe  Lclprf_86 Germany Level3_Peer Frankfurt
      Originator: edge3.Frankfurt1

  1257 30912 21202 35706 35100 13214
  AS-path translation: { SWIPNET DCSnet-GLOBAL-TRANSIT-AS DCSnet-AS NAO PatrikWeb-Core DCP-AS }
    edge3.Frankfurt1 (metric 41)
      Origin IGP, metric 100000, localpref 86, valid, internal, best
      Community: Europe  Lclprf_86 Germany Level3_Peer Frankfurt
      Originator: edge3.Frankfurt1

Note the final Autonomous System AS13214 in the list.

All this won’t matter anyway, since TPB is about to be sold, and the issues of trackers will be moot. Of course, TPB founders could still relocate tracker.openbittorrent.com to another AS, or find a way to BGP-announce the current subnet 192.121.86.0/24 to the major Tier-1 backbones. But this is another story. Right now, torrents with DHT are (still) working perfectly, and all tracker-bound torrents are stalled.

Update 09/05/2009: In the mean time, tracker.openbittorrent.com has been relocated to a new subnet 188.126.64.0/19 belonging to Portland Services, AS42708, whose route is BGP advertised properly. Of course, this tracker is reachable worldwide, as it should, except when selectively blocked in some countries or by some ISPs. But globally, they’re back. :)

However, since Portland Services is a Swedish ISP, they too could also be hit by lawyers, and thus, tracker.openbittorrent.org may be forced sooner or later to relocate outside Sweden to a more secure part of the world (Ukraine? Russia? …). That they are back right now can only be seen as a temporary workaround and hot fix, not as a mid-term solution.

Update 2010/05/23: As predicted at the end of the post, Portland has indeed been served an injunction by a Swedish court a couple of days ago, and OBT are currently knocked off the Net (until they relocate). Fortunately, DHT/PEX-based torrents aren’t affected.

This is one more proof that the tracker-based BitTorrent protocol is highly vulnerable to lawfare, due to trackers (even neutral content-agnostic ones like OBT) being a single point of failure. In the current poisoned legal climate (a.k.a. “war on file sharing”), only distributed, trackerless p2p distribution networks a la ED2K+KAD or BitTorrent+DHT/PEX have a chance to survive. In the not too distant future, thanks to HADOPI-style 3-strikes-and-you-re-out regimes and ACTA regulations, even those p2p networks will evolve and grow anonymizing features… which is highly desirable from the point of view of human rights activism.

Maybe we’ll have gone full circle, and will end up using Freenet and GNUnet (again), despite their inherent higher latencies and (still) awkward implementations and interfaces. That’s natural selection at work.

3 Comments

  1. Kathryn Petronis

    Lol to put songs on Ipod you need itunes…now if you don’t want to BUY off itunes you can use limewire. But you still have to use itunes to snyc your ipod.

     
  2. good guys

    Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

     
  3. Who needs this overly expensive iTunes store (10x more expensive than they should be) and a pricey iPod? A simple MP3 player will play all your non-DRMed MP3s just fine.