Torrenters be warned: Opera is considering a filtering system for its web browser after being asked to block access to websites offering pirated content and other restricted material. Russian telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor is reportedly in discussions with the Norwegian software company over a possible blacklist that would prevent the browser from circumventing blocked websites, such as torrent sites.
While the Opera browser doesn't enjoy the same mainstream following as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, it's become somewhat of a favourite amongst torrenters and those wishing to access geo-restricted content, owing to its ability to get around website blocks thanks to its integrated VPN.
One of its most popular features is 'Turbo Mode', a setting designed to speed up the browsing experience by compressing images and other page elements that also enables users to bypass ISP blocks by acting as a proxy.
Russian news outlet Kommersant reports that Opera had been in discussions about blacklisting restricted websites in Russia to keep them blocked, even while browsing in Turbo Mode.
However, these talks were put on ice following Opera Software's acquisition by China's Qihoo 360 earlier this year, which subsequently led to the closure of Opera's Russia office.
Roskomnadzor, which recently banned access to professional networking site LinkedIn, has confirmed that the possibility that Opera will block certain websites is still on the cards. However, this depends on if and when an agreement with the new shareholders is met. Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky said: "We are ready to send periodically a list of resources for such a filter at the conclusion of a bilateral agreement."
Opera's integrated VPN doesn't appear to be under threat for now, owing to the fact it was introduced to the browser after discussions with Roskomnadzor began. The company refused to comment on the matter when approached by IBTimes UK.
While a filtering system hasn't been proposed outside of Russia, it shows that Opera's workarounds aren't going unnoticed by ISPs. Imposing a blacklist at the behest of one country could open the floodgates to others making similar requests, particularly countries where web browsing is already a heavily-monitored affair. Thanks to the upcoming introduction of the Snooper's Charter, you'll soon be able to add the United Kingdom to this list.