What Your ISP Will Do If They Think You’re a Pirate

July 19, 2012

US ISPs will soon be collecting data on behalf of the entertainment industry. That data, according to an article in TorrentFreak, will be gone through by third party agencies that will look for signs of piracy. This is slated to begin in July of 2012 and has raised the hackles of privacy advocates across the nation. The question remains, however, what can your ISP really do about it?


The one punishment mentioned in the TorrentFreak article is throttling bandwidth. This is only undertaken after a subscriber has been warned that their activity looks enough like piracy to the entertainment industry representatives to constitute choking off their connection. Theoretically, disconnecting a user is also an option, but most ISPs are not likely to do this.

Ironically, after the sixth warning, there is no recourse. According to the article, nothing will really happen after that sixth warning is issued, as it will be obvious that the user in question doesn’t particularly care about receiving the warnings or having their bandwidth throttled. Their Internet service, according to the article, will go back to normal.

Torrent and Torrent Only

It’s likely that the system will monitor bit torrent more than anything else, according to the article. While this isn’t the only system that copyright enforcement advocates claim costs them money, it is the most popular. This may lead to users switching over to other protocols, of course, or taking other measures to provide protection for their privacy.

Industry, Monitoring and Privacy

Illegal downloads are problems. They cost copyright owners money to which they are entitled and, of course, they cost the entertainment industry. Privacy advocates, however, maintain that the level of intrusiveness into people’s online activity being undertaken on behalf of the entertainment industry is not acceptable. There are solutions for legal file downloads that allow users to avoid being snooped by industry advocates who, disturbingly, are engaging in monitoring that police would likely require a warrant to engage in.

USENET services typically use SSL connections to protect the privacy of their users. Increasingly, users are also employing VPN services to encrypt all of their data. This is predictable, given that ISPs and the entertainment industry have basically announced that they intend to take a look at what everyone’s doing online. The encryption provided by a USENET service utilizing SSL and a VPN conceal what is being sent across the ISPs lines, where it came from and prevent the private copyright police from snooping.

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