EU ask if software used to track illegal downloaders is illegal itself

26 January 2010

Downloading filth, no doubt

Illegal downloading? Not all that again! Well, here's yet another story that makes certain people look out-of-touch and underhand, blissfully ignoring the fact that the bottom line is that people wouldn't be pissing about with all this shit if it weren't for people on the rob.

We're getting ahead of ourselves here.

Some human rights watchdog has asked the European Commission to look at the legality of software being used to analyse file-sharing in the UK.

The software that's been flagged up by Privacy International has the hilarious name of CView and is to be used ISP Virgin Media to try and identify legal-versus-illegal traffic (despite the fact you can hide your activities, reported elsewhere on these very pages).

Virgin Media, of course, reckon that the software poses no risk to anyone's privacy. Unless you count people peering into your business and poking around in it like a virtual Gillian McKeith without invite.

The watchdog is worried about the software used as it utilises something called a 'deep packet inspection', which effectively means that it can identify actual file-names, making it possible to accurately find out what content is legal and what is not.

According to Alexander Hanff, head of ethical networks at Privacy International, use of such software is in breach of current UK law.

"Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) intercepting communications is a criminal offence regardless of what you do with the data," he said. As such, should Virgin deploy CView, he's game for filing a criminal complaint. This has meant that trials of the technology in the UK have been put on hold while investigations roll out.

In conjunction with this, the UK government are creating legislation that hopes to see illegal file-sharers being identified and subsequently banned from using anything that remotely resembles an internet connection.

A Virgin spokesman says that this software isn't about identifying you e-ne'er-do-wells:

"It was never designed to capture identities. This isn't an answer for that," said Asam Ahmad. "We want to understand what we can do to reduce illegal file-sharing. This will tell us things such as the name of the top ten tracks being shared as well as the percentage of legal versus illegal."

Mr Ahmad said no date had yet been set for the trial but told BBC News it will monitor traffic on three peer-to-peer networks notorious for trading illegal as well as legal software; Gnutella, eDonkey and BitTorrent.

This potentially means that 40% of Virgin Media's customers could have their data scrutinised and they won't be told in advance... apart from those Virgin Media customers who have received a letter after being identified as someone who downloads illegal content already.

Next week: Dog chases tail.

TOPICS:   Technology

13 comments

  • LanceVance
    Nothing will stop teh interwebs...............apart from typing google into google.
  • The B.
    So, it'll only be used to monitor sharing on p2p, that's okay then, I download all of my tv shows in rar multiparts.
  • Bob
    Nice to know the EU has UK peoples privacy in mind instead of this nanny/surveillance state government.
  • Richard
    Meh only a fool uses p2p these days anyway the smart monkey downloads from Usenet it's a server client relationship so prevents the usual joining a bit torrent swarm to get your IP address and as for CView with its DPI that's easily fixed as well download from Usenet using SSL so your connection is secure - simples
  • Mike U.
    I download about 40GB a week and no one dares turn up at my place, I wore the Zavvi 'Legal Downloads Is Killing Piracy' t-shirt last week and my whole office was in agreement, and I work for a multi national software company Ha Ha Ha!!!
  • bwah h.
    Where do I find a usenet?
  • Brian
    Hi, my name is Brian. Will "they" be able to find out about my large stash of Bridget the Midget porn on my PC?
  • FBI
    Brian, we already know about it.
  • d72
    I think we should first look at the legality of the EU and the British government
  • Klingelton
    Everyone knows the internet is for pr0n. Virgin Media are just using this software to find out where all the best pr0n is.
  • Bill B.
    What's a pron?
  • JJ
    think of the cost of examining every single packet of data, not likely. although i download my stuff in password protected rar parts, they can still detect the file name, but surely they can actually prove whats in the rar unless they put all the pieces together, crack the password, and play whatevers inside. think im safe for now.
  • JJ
    bill bennett, pron = porn.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment