According to BBC Worldwide, ISPs should monitor their user’s activity and, if a user happens to be downloading a lot of data over an encrypted connection, those ISPs should assume that it must be because of piracy. This was in a filing made to the Australian government regarding online privacy and, despite the somewhat sinister nature of the statement itself, it did recently spark a rather insightful – and humorous – reaction from Hide IP VPN.
As that reaction points out in a rather tongue-in-cheek way, there are some serious implications in the BBC Worldwide statement that, in many regards, are chilling. The essence of the statement is that, if somebody takes measures to protect their privacy and then utilizes a service that they paid for – the bandwidth from their ISP – they must be assumed a criminal of some sort.
Are some people who are downloading a lot of data on a VPN pirating? Unquestionably, yes. However, that is absolutely not the only reason that people use VPNs and, in a world where invasions of privacy over the Internet have become routine, there are plenty of good reasons that people should protect their privacy.
The entire point of having a broadband connection is to facilitate downloading large amounts of data quickly. Whether it is a streaming video service or some other service that depends upon a great deal of data being delivered rapidly, a VPN is oftentimes the best solution to avoiding deliberate reductions in service imposed by ISPs, greedy for extra cash from a “fast lane” scheme they’ve cooked up in the US. Gamers also heavily utilize VPNs, allowing them to get a faster connection to a server, which is a particularly useful feature of these services for gamers who play first-person shooters and other competitive types of games and who need the lowest ping speed possible.
These and many other uses for VPNs can consume a great deal of bandwidth. According to companies such as BBC Worldwide, however, governments and ISPs should be monitoring users to be sure that they’re not filching dollars from the profit piles of the copyright cartels.
Not all entertainment providers have proven to be so heavy-handed in their statements, however. The TV show Game of Thrones is one of the most pirated in the world. Produced by HBO, it’s only available with a cable TV subscription. Fans of the show who were pirating the content have been actively asking HBO to make it available online so they can pay for it. HBO, in response, said that they really weren’t all that concerned about people pirating their content, but pirates get an inferior product than they would if they got it through legitimate television subscription.
If the BBC and other copyright holders want to reduce piracy, they can take a lesson from nations where services like Netflix have become available. Given a better option – even a paid option – people will generally take it. As for monitoring people and suspecting anyone who downloads a significant amount of data over an encrypted connection as being a criminal, it’s simply beneath an organization that has an otherwise stellar reputation for upholding free speech and free disclosure of information as does the BBC to make such a dunderheaded statement.