Tag Archives: BitTorrent

Download Files Via BitTorrent Anonymously

Downloading files via BitTorrent has its legitimate as well as illegal uses. Many companies like Ubuntu offer their files via BitTorrent, but at the same time it must be recognized that BitTorrent is also used to share files which infringe copyright laws.

For the uninitiated BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer download network that uses the computers of hundreds (if not thousands) of individuals to share a file. To download the complete file, different chunks are grabbed from all the different computers who are sharing the data. This way it spreads the load away from traditional download servers to individual PCs and increases the potential bandwidth available. To use it, a BitTorrent client needs to be installed on your PC (there are multitudes of variations available for Windows, Mac and Linux).

However all this sharing isn’t anonymous. As chunks of files are downloaded records are kept about who has what bit so that other computers can connect and the chunk passed on. It doesn’t take too much imagination to realize that a fake BitTorrent client can connect to the network and see who is sharing what. In fact the entertainment industry has been doing just that for years now. However this information has never really been readily available as an easy to search index. Until now that is.

Youhavedownloaded.com is a new website which lists all your recent BitTorrent downloads for everyone to see. The site can’t track every single file being downloaded on the Internet, however it has managed to collect data on nearly 2,000,000 files downloaded by over 53,000,000 users.

“We just want to remind people that the Internet is not a place to expect privacy,” said Suren Ter-Saakov, one of the brains behind the site. “Nowadays many people use it without understanding what information they leave behind. Also, even those who understand choose to ignore it quite often.”

The sites biggest failings however is with regards to dynamic IP addresses. Many Internet providers provide users with a modem which when it connects to the Internet gets a different dynamic address each time it connects. If the modem is switch off (for example at night) then the next time it connects it will have a different address.

When asked about this Suren Ter-Saakov responded: “We don’t bother ourselves to separate dynamic IPs. The site is just for show. However we have time-stamps. 3.3.3.3 might be a dynamic IP – however it belonged to a certain person at 12:12am 12/12/2011.” The implication is that together with the records from an Internet provider the exact user of any given address at any given time can be discovered.

So the key question of course is, how can you download using BitTorrent without having your IP address recorded, tracked and displayed for everyone to see.

The answer is simple. Use a virtual private network (VPN) like FoxyVPN. A VPN is a special way to connect to the Internet by creating an encrypted link from your computer to a server on the Internet. All network traffic from your PC will go out onto the Internet via the remote VPN server. This means that all your web surfing, emailing and downloads using services like BitTorrent will appear as if they come from the VPN server and not your PC. This means that any data stored on the BitTorrent network will show your VPN provider while you remain anonymous. In fact your Internet service provider won’t even be able to tell what you are doing on the net.

Can Police Search Your Computer Through Peer-to-Peer Networks?

By: Damon Chetson

The Fourth Amendment gives people a right against unreasonable searches and seizures:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Given this language, what protections are afforded to people who are participating in peer-to-peer sharing networks, such as BitTorrent, LimeWire, GigaTribe, and other services. The answer is: not many. If you have a question about this issue, feel free to contact Wilmington criminal lawyer Damon Chetson about the matter.

In U.S. v. Katz, the Supreme Court set out the general principle that a search only occurs when 1) a person expects privacy and 2) society believes that expectation is reasonable. The key prong is whether the expectation of privacy is “reasonable.”

As CYB3RCRIM3, a blog on technology and the law notes, the United States Supreme Court has consistently and repeatedly held that no search occurs where police may be using peer-to-peer technologies or file-sharing software to peer into your computer to see what may be on there. That’s because given that you are sharing the contents or some of the contents of your computer with the world, you have given up your expectation of privacy.

Even where you have taken measures to block certain access, if police are able to evade those firewalls or blocks by using the file-sharing or peer-to-peer software to look into your computer, such police actions do not constitute searches.

CYB3RCRIM3 notes that in a recent Federal District Court opinion (WL 010 WL 14427523) from Massachusetts, the court denied a challenge to the search warrant, which was predicated on a police officer’s warrantless look into a computer through file-sharing technology, by saying that because the Defendant, David Ladeau, had installed Gigatribe and, by doing so, enabled the sharing of information and filing on his computer with other Gigatribe users.

The Court wrote:

No matter how strictly Ladeau controlled who accessed his . . .files, he had no control over what those people did with information about the files once he granted them access. . . . .Once Ladeau turned over the information about how to access the network to a third party, his expectation of privacy in the network became objectively unreasonable. Because the files he claims were private were made available to anyone on the network, his expectation of privacy in those files was also objectively unreasonable. Ladeau bore the risk that any person who had access to his Gigatribe network would provide information to the police about illegal acts occurring on the network. As a consequence, he also bore the risk that such a person would enable the police to access the network and download any files Ladeau made available for download….

Anyone using file sharing software – from LimeWire to Gigatribe to BitTorrent – should be aware that they have given up any expectation of privacy, and that police have free run to look into one’s computer.

Apex criminal lawyer Damon Chetson defends people charged with felonies, misdemeanors, traffic and DWI charges in Raleigh, Cary, and Apex, NC. DWI Raleigh lawyer Damon Chetson is available day or night, weekdays or weekends. He can be reached for a free consultation (919) 352-9411.

About the Author

Wilmington criminal lawyer Damon Chetson helps people charged with crimes in the eastern part of North Carolina. Call (910) 241-0003 for a free consultation.

(ArticlesBase SC #2943456)

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