USENET to Be Monitored by RIAA

April 29, 2012

For the recording and entertainment industries, their copyrights are worth millions, if not billions. Your privacy is worth nothing. To prove that point, the RIAA and some ISPs have teamed up to monitor what you do online, including your use of the USENET system. Even if you’ve never pirated a thing in your life, you’re going to be treated as a suspect and your traffic is going to be monitored.

What it Means

What this means for USENET users is that all of your traffic is going to be checked by the RIAA, with the full cooperation of your ISP. Some of the ISPs participating in this include AT&T, Verizon, Cablevision and Comcast. If you have one these ISPs, your terms of service will soon include having your traffic monitored to make sure that you’re on the up and up with the entertainment industry.

What to Do

The official start date of the program is rather vague. Some reports say June 12, some say July 1 and some say the second quarter of 2012. At any rate, the summer movie season will kick off with the people who make them checking up on you to make sure you’re surfing legally.

There are options you can use to protect your privacy, but the onus is on you, given that your ISP has probably already agreed to subject your traffic to monitoring by an agency that’s not a law-enforcement agency but that is, rather, a corporate interest group. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Do not connect to the USENET through a service provided by your ISP. Use a third-party provider. There are many of them and they generally offer better service than the ISP versions of USENET access.
  • Use an SSL connection if you have the option with your USENET service. This encrypts your traffic and anyone monitoring will get garbled nonsense instead of intelligible data to work with.
  • The third option is to use a VPN service. These services encrypt all of your traffic, USENET and otherwise. They provide overall protection instead of just protection for your USENET service.

Protecting user privacy used to be a selling point, but it’s no longer something that the ISPs particularly care about. If you don’t want to be treated like an Internet pirate and have all of your traffic monitored, then you’re going to have to take measures yourself and take advantage of the available security services for Internet surfing.

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