As the Pirate Bay trial comes to its conclusion, bit torrent has once again been dragged, kicking and screaming into the light. The defendants of the case could spend their time worrying about the outcome, but instead they’ve channeled their efforts into adding more protection to keep the long arm of the law away from those who use the service for nefarious purposes. They’ve developed a new service called IPREDATOR, which promises to be better at keeping users’ details a secret than current VPN services.
The service is currently in private beta, and will be gradually rolled out to all users some time around April 1st. The significance of the date isn’t thanks to April Fool’s Day, but because that’s the date when Sweden’s contraversial new Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) comes into effect, which grant copyright holders more rights to get their hands on file sharers’ details. You’ve got to hand it to the Pirate Bay – they’ve got a lot of chutspa.
Currently, many bit torrent users around the world use VPN to protect their details. Costing a few pounds per month, the user protects their internet connection while pulling data in via the servers of a VPN provider. The torrenter’s IP address is hidden, and will show the IP of the VPN service of choice instead, meaning their personal details are one step further away from copyright holders.
The weak link in this security comes from the VPN providers, who could feasibly cave to legal pressure and provide their logs to copyright holders. IPREDATOR won’t be keeping logs, making this impossible.
It’s going to be rolled out to 500 users gradually, and then made available to all Pirate Bay users, wherever they’re based. The service will cost €5 per month. All good news for torrent users, but I’m still a bit unsure about this. If copyright holders can’t get their hands on the IP information of subscribers, how long will it be before they try and put pressure on online payment services to reveal their members’ transactions? A huge invasion of privacy, but we’ve already seen how far the copyright holders are willing to go to maintain a grip on their 20th Century values.