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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

File-Sharers Are All Monitored

The recent study says that whatever is downloaded via peer-to-peer networks, including video and music, is heavily monitored. Several computer scientists from the Birmingham University spent their past 3 years to develop software similar to BitTorrent in attempt to log all the connections it makes. 

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Their logs said that you don’t even have to be a hardcore downloader to be monitored. Instead, the truth is more disturbing than you would like it to be: the leader of the team explained that everyone who downloaded a single video will also be logged. And if this video was in the top 100 it was monitored within hours. Someone would notice and everything will be recorded.

Moreover, the research in question pin-pointed ten monitoring companies which were logging the material. Some of them were copyright-enforcement outfits, security companies, and research labs, while the rest couldn’t be identified due to using 3rd-party hosting companies to do the job for them.

The researchers confirmed that a lot of companies were just sitting on the information. Since such spying can be easily done and the results are out there, they believe they may also collect them as a potentially valuable data.

A number of these companies, especially the ones which monitored on a massive scale, were accused of selling the collected information to rights owners for marketing purposes. The offered information showed what data was popular and where.

So, how to avoid the risk of being spied on? One way is to use a “blocklist”, but there’s no guarantee that it would work, because a lot of the monitors discovered by the researchers were not on the blocklists. As for Europe and the United States, the rights holders often use the IP addresses they have received from monitoring companies in order to obtain a court order and consequently force the ISPs to give away personal details of their users, including home address and so on.

Though, such evidence is not likely to get the copyright owners anywhere. The matter is that all the monitors the researchers observed do connect to file-sharers and confirm they were running the BitTorrent client, but they don’t collect any of the files shared. So, Internet users are still able to protect themselves by masking their real IP address through proxies and VPNs. 

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