BitTorrent Monitors – You Are Being Spied On

It’s no great surprise to me, but at least when it gets covered on the BBC News then more people will believe it’s true. We are not anonymous online and in fact there are people actively tracking and spying on us for a variety of reasons. The BitTorrent story is related to a study completed by Birmingham University, who concluded that anyone using the file sharing service BitTorrent was being monitored.  The study is published here – The Unbearable Lightness of Monitoring: Direct Monitoring in BitTorrent

The study points out that there are at least 10 large monitoring firms logging details of illegal downloads using these sites.  If you start downloading a pirate copy of a popular film or album, your IP address will be recorded within 4 hours by these firms.  So if you don’t fancy being on a list of individuals guilty of copyright theft sitting on the desk of some sneaky litigation lawyer – then you’d better be careful using torrent sites like this and Pirate Bay.

So why are these firms doing this?  What are they actually planning to use these huge lists of illegal downloaders for?   Well there’s probably a certain amount of ‘just in case’ – the data could potentially be lucrative so they are grabbing it now.    The biggest clue comes in the various court cases that have appeared over the years – one of the most famous being the slimy bunch from – ACS Law.

This UK Law Firm obtained thousands of these names and IP addresses from the ISPs of individuals who’s computers had been used for downloading illegal copies of films (mainly pornographic).  Instead of taking them all to court for copyright theft, they decided to send each and every person on the list a demand for a sum of money usually around £500 in order to stop any further action.

These threats were often a complete surprise to the receivers,  they included the list of the films that were downloaded illegally.  Often they would know nothing about these films because of course the person who received the letter was merely the person who paid the ISP invoice.  So grandparents were receiving letters about downloading illegal porn films that others had downloaded using their connection.  Fortunately this horrible practice was eventually stopped but not before thousands had paid up to these threats.

Take a look at these logs which were what the solicitors had obtained from the ISPs.

It’s a new business model for the porno industry.   Instead of making a cheap, low budget porno flick and sell it online for a few bucks – you monitor ISP logs and then blackmail anyone who had downloaded a pirate copy.   I mean even the innocent are going to have some nerve to stand up and defend themselves from the charge of downloading a pirated copy of “Freddie’s British Granny F*ck Volume 1” !!  No of course I didn’t download it dear, don’t you believe me !!!!

So don’t use Torrents if you’re going to download pirated stuff, there’s a whole army of commercial lawyer leech types waiting to track you down if you do.  It’s very easy for them to pay a firm to monitor the downloads of files from P2P sites – they can see your IP address in  the Peer list of the tracker or even just join the download when they’ll directly connect to your computer.  Your IP address (and hence your name and address – check this) is then directly linked to the illegal download and you’ll be on a list like the one above.

Use proxies and security software like Identity Cloaker to protect your self and hide your identity.  There are also a few Private Usenet feeds you can subscribe to with SSL to encrypt your connection – like Astraweb and Bintube.

 

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6 Responses

  1. jonsa says:

    That’s awful – they’re basically just blackmailing people. Hope they get their just desserts!!

    • says:

      Well you’re in luck 🙂 . They went into bankruptcy a few years back and Andrew Crossley was struck off for a couple of years. It was very lucrative I think for a few years. They did get hacked though and lost all the contents of their email server – zipped files of these are still drifting about the internet. They make for an interesting read especially the legals discussions they conducted about the individual cases.

  2. Vincent says:

    Wow that’s a bit scary, so the ISPs just hand out your details.

    • says:

      Yep all they have to do is supply the file name of a pirate copy of a film or something, then ask who has downloaded this file. All the information is in the ISP logs, they’ll have date and time the file was downloaded, the IP address and obviously name and address from records. Of course this assumes that the owner of the internet connection is always responsible which is why many people are able to challenge it. Always use a VPN or at least an SSL enabled torrent client to hide what you’re downloading.

  3. adrienne says:

    So when your downloading a torrent file, your IP address is visible to some people?

    • theninja says:

      Yes that’s correct, which is how these people were caught. At your ISP there is a log of every file, website, video or everything you do online. Using SSL when downloading will partially help you – obscuring the actual file you download, however the torrent site address will still be visible. Programs like Identity Cloaker will hide both your activity and the web site you are using.

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