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- How to Unblock The Pirate Bay
- October 4, 2011
- This is a guest post by TorrentFreak reader Jeroen, in response to the Belgian Pirate Bay blockade.
- Today, two of Belgium’s biggest operators, Telenet and Belgacom, got a court order to block the website ThePirateBay.org, and about 20 alternative URL’s to the same site. The court ordered them to do a DNS-level block of the domain names, which is easy to circumvent. I’m writing this post because I’m against censorship on the internet (this sets a dangerous precedent), not because I’m in favor of copyright infringement or other illegal activities.
- What is DNS?
- DNS stands for wikipedia”>Domain Name System. It’s a system that translates human-readable website addresses into numerical identifiers which can be used by your computer. For example, “http://www.google.be” points to “220.127.116.11?. Which of those two is easier to remember for you?
- When your system wants to translate a website-adress into a numerical identifier, it contacts a DNS Server, which is basicly just a big table with all the translations in it. This is usually provided by your ISP, and will be the default one if you haven’t made any changes to your internet settings. For Telenet, these DNS servers look like: 195.130.X.X, for Belgacom, they are situated in the 195.238.X.X range.
- What the recent court ruling forces the Belgian ISP’s to do (at risk of a hefty fine), is to simply stop answering to any requests for certain domains (e.g. ThePiratebay). This crude drawing demonstrates it. They may stop answering, or redirect the user to a page which explains why the site cannot be reached anymore.
- Choosing a different DNS Server
- So that’s it then? Wrong!
- As an internet user, you are free to pick a different DNS server. In Layman’s terms: you are free to choose who translates your human-readable URL’s into numerical identifiers! There are tons of alternative DNS servers available, and during the last years, more and more people have started using them, for various reasons:
- - To circumvent censorship (our case, but also in countries with restrictive information policies like like China, Korea …)
- - Better security (some DNS servers are quicker in blocking URL’s which contain malware)
- - Faster response times
- There are tons of options available. The most popular ones are OpenDNS and the Google DNS. For a full list, check this website. Which one is best for you depends on your geographical location, but you probably can’t go wrong in picking any of the two mentioned. Both services have servers all over the world and will most likely respond as fast (or even faster) as your ISP’s DNS. If you’re very serious about picking the absolute fastest one for you, you can use a tool like Namebench to find out which DNS server is fastest, but again, using any of the big boys will probably be the best choice.
- Configuring your system/network to use a different DNS Server
- The good news is that configuring your system to use a different DNS server is not hard at all. If you don’t like it, you can easily revert the procedure. Don’t be afraid because of the semi-technical mumbo-jumbo above, it’s a lot easier than it sounds. All you need is the IP address for the new DNS service. Most services offer a primary and a secondary address (which is used if the first address cannot be reached). For the two main alternatives, these are:
- - OpenDNS: 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124
- - GoogleDNS: 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52
- You can configure an alternative DNS server on a per-computer basis, or for your whole network. The first one is the quickest, probably easiest solution, the last one has the huge advantage that all devices on your network will use the new DNS automatically, without the need to configure them all.
- - Per computer: I happily refer to the excellent documentation on the OpenDNS website. They have guides for every flavor of Windows, Mac or Linux.
- - Per network: Check your network router’s manual. Usually, you can browse to a local address like 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.2.1, log in using admin username and password, and then configure the DNS settings. Again, the OpenDNS website has an excellent guide for every modern router.
- Am I breaking the law now?
- I’m not a lawyer, but as far as I know (and do correct me on this in the comments if I’m wrong), there’s nothing illegal about using an alternative DNS server.
- Anything else I can do?
- Demand a free and open internet, before it’s too late. Be vocal about it. Write to your ISP (Telenet contact and Belgacomcontact) and your politicians. Support the EFF and/or your local Pirate Party (for Belgium: http://pirateparty.be/)
- This post is from the News Bits section of TorrentFreak where we present stories from around the web in a concise summary format. Full TorrentFreak articles can be found here. If you have a tip please let us know. News Bits have their very own RSS feed
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How to Unblock The Pirate Bay
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