Can You Bit Torrent Anonymously?

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No. But “How Can You Bit Torrent With a Higher Level of Security?” would be an awful title.

Copyright trolls are endemic in the US. These “trolls” act on behalf of rights holders, accusing internet users of illegally downloading copyrighted material and demanding large cash settlements (often thousands of dollars) to avert potential lawsuits. The allegations launched by copyright trolls are not proven in court prior to the issuance of these threatening letters, which are typically mailed in large batches to thousands of victims. Last week a Canadian court’s ruling ensured the questionable practice of copyright trolling will move north of the border, tempered only by the Justice’s imposition of minor protections for potential victims.

Neither I nor this blog promotes nor condones the sharing of copyrighted material in contravention of any copyright holder’s rights. Your author discourages illegal activity. Neither I nor this blog render legal advice (I’m quite obviously not a lawyer). Here’s a public service announcement:

The problem is that acting within the law doesn’t protect you from copyright trolls and government surveillance. Here are the harsh realities:

  1. Internet providers often punish all bit torrent users by throttling connections — even the folks who are acting within the law. There’s a wealth of material that you can legally download via bit torrent protocol and you pay a lot of money for your internet, yet you may get punished. Other victims of illegitimate throttling include video game players (Rogers throttled me for playing Xbox 360 multiplayer) and Netflix users.
  2. Copyright trolls often have insufficient evidence (e.g. a dubious IP number list and a fake torrent) to prove their claims, even on the balance of probabilities. But they don’t care about proving it in court — they just want to scare you and get a quick cash settlement.
  3. The copyright trolls typically take no action when their targets refuse to settle i.e. they never actually file a lawsuit. Often they’ll just send more threatening letters. Again, these trolls just want to make an easy buck by scaring innocent laypeople into “settling”. It’s a disgusting, gross abuse of due process.
  4. Barack “The Constitution Killah” Obama and the NSA continue to needlessly invade the personal lives of hundreds of millions of innocent people every single day.
  5. Cyberbullying is a Criminal Code offence in Canada. That doesn’t mean a cyberstalker won’t bring your political speech, dissidence, or satire from outside of work into the workplace to oppress your creed, religion, disability, etc. — despite the fact that these statuses are allegedly protected by the kangaroo courts (e.g. the Human Rights Tribunal).

Making yourself a harder target for surreptitious bit torrent snooping is a simple, two-step process.

Step 1: Tell your bit torrent client to encrypt your data so that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can’t read the packets that your computer sends and receives. If you’re like me and use the latest version of uTorrent, this process is simple:

In the menu bar, select Options and scroll down to Preferences. On the pop-up Preferences screen, select the BitTorrent section. In the Protocol Encryption box, set the ”Outgoing:“ drop-down to “Forced” and uncheck the “Allow incoming legacy connections” box.

Step 2: Use an internet proxy. A proxy or Virtual Private Network (VPN) will route data through another server that has a different IP from yours, effectively hiding your real IP from other servers. Like many things, you get what you pay for; the good quality VPN that I use (PrivateInternetAccess) costs $40 USD per year. Whether you get a VPN depends on how much you value your security and privacy. I place a high value on both.

You could use a VPN to view the American version of Netflix, Hulu, etc. but you should not violate these companies’ terms of service by using a proxy!!

Notably, these two steps will not protect you if you try to illegally download copyrighted material, fail to check the comments/ratings/file type, and end up executing a malicious program that reveals your attempted crime to copyright trolls or rights holders. So stop your illegal downloading and you won’t have to worry.

Now that you’ve got a VPN, why not take another step and install the Tor Browser Bundle for your general surfing needs? It’ll slow your internet down a touch, but your browsing will be encrypted and gain another layer of pseudo-anonymity. Plus you can start saying:

Good luck, I'm behind 7 proxies!

(And download 7-Zip and Glary Utilities. If you keep passwords, financial records, etc. on your computer then encrypt them with 7-Zip. After decrypting files and using them, delete the decrypted file copies and “shred” them in Glary to randomly scatter the data across your hard drive, rendering the information irretrievable.)

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1 Comment… Share your views

  1. I also heard about unotelly reccently, which some law-breakers use to watch video on american sites without having to use a VPN (and apparently it’s quite cheap too). Good thing we don’t do that. Seriously though, I think I’ll forget about it before the opportunity arises. I just saw it last week and the only reason I came up with the name is because I remembered the first letter and my browser did the rest.

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