The entertainment industry has made no secret of the fact that they have a beef with bit torrent sites. In fact, their irritation with these file sharing networks has become so pronounced that they have convinced ISPs to spy on people’s Internet traffic to make certain that everything they’re doing is in line with the entertainment industry’s interests. That being said, like many industry groups, the RIAA and MPAA seem to be hyper focused on bit torrent, which may leave USENET users in a position where they have a bit more privacy utilizing the system.
The entertainment industry has targeted USENET as a problem for copyright infringement in the past. Even though this is the case, however, USENET has a very low user base compared to the amount of people that use bit torrent sites. USENET services are also mostly services that people are required to pay for, which further decreases the number of people that utilize them.
USENET is primarily known as a sort of proto-social networking system. The system has an extensive number of newsgroups, where people exchange information much as they would on an online forum.
USENET, however, happens to be excellent for sharing files. Some of the most active newsgroups on the USENET system include ones that are used to exchange astronomy pictures and other files that can be downloaded remarkably quickly over USENET connections.
USENET systems do have a significant advantage over most file sharing systems. While users of bit torrent sites can protect their privacy by utilizing a VPN to encrypt their traffic, most USENET providers use SSL encryption to protect the privacy of their users. Even without a VPN, most USENET users are accessing the system over a secure network.
Combining a VPN and the SSL connection typical of most USENET providers is one of the most privacy enhancing ways to use the Internet in peace.
While privacy advocates have been roiled by the complicity of ISPs in monitoring their customer’s activity on behalf of the entertainment industry, individuals on USENET systems may not be subjected to the same level of scrutiny. Even though both bit torrent and USENET have more legitimate uses than illegitimate ones, the industry has targeted both at various times in ways that, if the industry got their way, would destroy both systems. For the moment, however, USENET users appear to be able to go on with their lives without the same concerns about being spied upon that bit torrent users have.