The popular file hosting and sharing platform went offline following a civil raid on two French data centers.
French file-sharing platform UptoBox is down. The renowned site went offline on September 20, 2023, following a court-authorized raid on two data centers in the southeastern suburban parts of Paris.
At the height of its success, UptoBox was one of the most visited websites in the world, with at least 1.5 billion annual visits. The platform is well known globally for hosting users’ data on the cloud. It allows you to upload and share files. It was also known for high-quality movie and TV show streams, allegedly through piracy.
UptoBox’s woes began in May 2023, when the French Government authorized Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block the website. This action affected the platform, whose ⅓ of its visitors were French.
It continued to thrive, with the administrators jumping in to show users how to unblock these restrictions. It also remained the top file-sharing website among users in Indonesia, India, and Mexico.
The site has crossed the paths of giant production companies for copyright infringement. It has also been on the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment’s (ACE) radar for profiting from copyrighted materials. UptoBox and its mirror site, UptoStreams, have been offering premium subscriptions to users for access to popular movies and TV shows.
On September 20, 2023, UptoBox took to X, formerly Twitter, to address the rumor that their servers were down. Part of the tweet read,
“It seems that we have a technical problem; we are currently investigating, and the network seems seriously disrupted.”
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News that UptoBox was offline broke and spread around Europe. Users had divided opinions about the raid, which was initially thought to be orchestrated by the police. The French media company l’Informé was the first to break the fateful news.
In a report, l’Informé said the woes of UptoBox are connected to a police raid on two data centers based in Vitry-sur-Seine. In the southeastern suburban parts of Paris, Scaleway, and Opcore are the two cloud service providers providing servers to UptoBox.
The media house further revealed that, unlike earlier thought, the raid was not by the French police. Instead, it was a court-authorized counterfeit seizure in response to a complaint filed by several entertainment companies. The entertainment organizations in question included Amazon, Disney, Warner Bros., StudioCanal, Apple, Columbia, and Paramount.
A similar raid also happened in the United Arab Emirates, where the UptoBox administrators reside. ACE took full responsibility for the Paris and Dubai raids in response to TorrentFreak, who reached out for comments. Part of the response read,
“The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), the world’s leading anti-piracy coalition, today announced it has shut down Uptobox and Uptostream, two of the digital piracy world’s most notorious illegal video hosts.”
The reason behind the raid was to put an end to a piracy operation that had been allowing users to download and stream copyright-protected movies and TV shows. UptoBox rose in 2011 and has been in operation for over a decade. ACE further explained its immense effect, with about 1.5 billion website visitors in the last three years.
UptoBox admitted the defeat in a tweet, saying ‘they lost access to the servers containing the user files.’ However, no one has contacted them to confirm the seizure of their servers. The administrators insist the database was unaffected and no user data was lost.
“The database was not affected, and for security reasons, it was relocated off-web, and the servers operating the site were erased in their entirety. In the meantime, your files remain anonymous on our servers and are unusable. As for premium subscriptions, these are frozen and will be restored and credited with compensation as soon as we regain access to the file servers. We are not going to give up; our team is working hard to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.” said the tweet.
The ACE Coalition is made up of 30+ top entertainment companies around the world. These include Hollywood giants like Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures, Disney, and Paramount. European film and TV production companies are also members, with French StudioCanal leading the pack.
In a different statement, StudioCanal supported ACE’s action against UptoBox. Celine Boyer is the Head of Content Protection at Canal+ and had this to say:
“Canal+ supports swift action when acts of piracy compromise intellectual property rights, which in turn has an impact on our business. Our partnership with ACE is essential to ensuring that the creative marketplace continues to thrive by addressing content piracy at its source.”
But what gave UptoBox away despite thriving for over a decade?
The weak moment dates back to 2018 when one of UptoBox’s officials posted a picture on X (then Twitter). Online sleuths believe the user, whose handle name is @Starrouille, may have exposed UptoBox’s data centers in the image.
The image shows a gated facility that looks like a data center. The user also wrote ‘@online dc2’ as the image caption. These two phrases may have given away intricate details related to UptoBox.
Scaleway, one of UptoBox’s raided data centers, was previously known as Online SAS before rebranding in 2015. Detectives may have joined the dots and discovered that Online references this server facility.
For DC2, it was an acronym for Data Center 2. These two pieces of information gave UptoBox away. The Google location image for the Vitry-sur-Seine-based facility matches the image posted on X five years ago.
Online piracy has become widespread over the last decade, but copyright-protection alliances have put up a good fight. This battle has seen hundreds of sites with millions of visitors go down.
In March 2023, The Independent reported that police in the UK raided several properties and arrested four suspects concerning online piracy. A similar crackdown went down in the Netherlands in May, where police raided a data center tied to one of the most popular IPTV services.
The French Government has also been keen on the spread of illegal websites that infringe on intellectual property. In late 2022, it partnered with Google to remove hundreds of illegal domains showing pirated sports content.
UptoBox and its sister site, UptoStreams, remain unreachable for now. As for the raided data centers, they haven’t released official statements on the matter.
What Should You Do?
A tremendous amount of user data has been seized in this UptoBox raid. This means that the Government probably has access to the information of anyone who used UptoBox.
We do not encourage piracy. However, the raid reveals your personal information, and piracy is at risk. Therefore, it is always best to hide your online identity while using the internet.
You can maintain your privacy and stay anonymous on the web with ExpressVPN. This VPN will mask your IP address and keep you hidden online.
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