torrenting with no fear

I’ve become markedly more paranoid about bittorrent in the past few months, with all the news of systematic, widescale lawsuit shakedowns and the craven willigness of ISPs to hand over private IP address data. This is a perfect case study of how not having anonymity and privacy can lead to outright persecution, even if you are totally innocent of any copyright violations (fair use or not).

I don’t use BT for much beyond catching up on anime and various TV shows. Netflix doesn’t always have what i want, and even if it does I have to compete with the rest of my family for slots in the queue. And trying to catch things when they are broadcast is essentially impossible (no DVR, either). Ultimately I have to either be able to time shift or not watch at all; and paying more money above and beyond the cable TV and netflix subscription is just too high a barrier.

Unfortunately, the threat posed by the copyright tyrants is no longer negligible. So I do watch less and less TV nowadays (and play more Warcraft, read books, etc*). Though I did just discover CastTV which was indispensable for catching up on Doctor Who Season 5…

What I want is a way to torrent without losing my privacy. I did try PeerGuardian, which is a constantly updated realtime list of suspicious IP addresses to blacklist, but it never worked for me – the blacklist just doesn’t download from their server. I suspect the load is too high for a volunteer open source project to handle. The more compelling solution seems to be a paid proxy service, such as BTGuard, which is surprisingly affordable. If I understand BT correctly, even using a private tracker like BakaBT won’t protect your IP from the Bad Guys, so I am pretty sure I am going to have to bite the bullet on this one. BTGuard is intended primarily for torrenters, but I might as well also start using proxies for my casual browsing as well. There’s also the TOR project which purports to protect your web traffic from being intercepted… not sure I entirely understand that yet, but worth looking into.

I guess I’m not really sure how paranoid I should be. But the present system of just blindly and openly surfing and torrenting doesn’t seem sustainable.

*all these hobbies of course are competing for the tiny sliver of time I have late at night to myself, since my waking hours are dominated by family and work.

3 thoughts on “torrenting with no fear”

  1. I would advise against using TOR… as much as I love anime, it’s designed to help people in oppressive countries get around internet filters, and I would hate to waste their bandwidth.

  2. PeerGuardian – No. Anybody you connect to may be working for the spooks. BitTorrent is public by design, and PeerGuardian does not work on IP addresses it is seeing for the first time. Furthermore, some trackers allow you to see connected IP addresses on their website (BakaBT). PeerGuardian cannot do anything against that.

    BTGuard – It works in theory. But we cannot divine the intentions of this service. As far as I know, they have never undergone an “acid test” in court. Furthermore, if you read their terms of service at:

    it mentions that the user is responsible for everything they do.

    TOR – Stay away from it. Because it is volunteer-run and is heavily abused, the bandwidth is very slow. The project leaders recommend you not use P2P over it, as it hogs the pipes. TOR is otherwise excellent if you need to do some inconspicuous (but slow) surfing.

    BakaBT is a public tracker:

    But, private trackers can be infiltrated anyway.

    Solutions? Hope that GNUnet is finished within our lifetimes:

    Drop me a line if you have more questions.

  3. TOR with bit torrent is reasonable if you want to move a small quantity of information – e.g. a plaintext version of the Bible.

    Another option is simply to pay an ISP in a foreign country such as Sweden for access to USENET, which contains a lot of content on the binaries groups.

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