Bittorrent file sharers heavily watched – what happens to the data?
Researchers of the University of Birmingham have published a paper on the monitoring of file sharers. They found that information on illegal file sharers is gathered and stored by at least 1193 IP addresses, but that it’s unclear what is done with the information on the long term. For their research they developed software that behaves like a Bittorrent client and which logged all connections made to it.
Then the logs were analyzed and the researchers found out that anyone who downloads a popular torrent will have their IP address logged by a monitoring company within 3 hours of starting the download.
The companies who monitor illegal file sharing are often easily identified, but some of the companies try to hide themselves. To prevent being monitored some file sharers are using IP block lists that should prevent these monitoring companies from connecting to them. However the companies that try to stay anonymous use different hosting companies, with different IPs, making it impossible for blocking software to keep them all out.
The monitoring is probably done to bring file sharers to court, but to provide legal evidence of file sharing, a monitoring company has to make a direct connection to a suspected file sharer and then log their activity. However the companies are not actually collecting any of the files which, according to the researchers, makes it questionable if the evidence would stand up in court.
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