In response to what my esteemed colleague, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, has written in regards to the very public record of torrent downloading behavior, I thought I would take a moment to discuss a particularly forward-thinking service that takes away the ability for others to publicly see what you've downloaded via torrents.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present Torrific.
Although it's been around since 2009, there are very few people I meet who are aware of the service. Utilizing the cloud, Torrific works by taking a torrent you submit to the site, downloading its contents to their servers, then sending you a blazing-fast HTTP download link once it has completed downloading on their end. This removes you from the torrent equation completely, thus preventing your IP address from being tied to anything torrent-related whatsoever and rendering sites like YouHaveDownloaded completely useless.
This isn't to say that there's not some record, somewhere, of your downloading activity between your ISP and Amazon EC2 (where Torrific hosts its downloads), but the likelihood of the public finding out what you've been downloading is slim to none.
Aside from the anonymity issue, I find Torrific to be quite useful for submitting torrents with rare/obscure files (old band demos, live bootlegs, beta operating system builds, etc.) to. Since these torrents typically have only one or two seeders with slow connections who are online at times equally as obscure as the torrents they're seeding, it's nice to submit the torrent to Torrific, then be done with it until I'm surprised later via email with a fast, fresh HTTP download link. For that matter, I don't even run a torrent client on my computer in the first place. This is for a few reasons:
1 - The public nature of BitTorrent trackers. 2 - I don't like the thought of random people downloading from my computer. 3 - I don't download via torrent enough to justify having a client installed in the first place.
Additionally, I personally know 3 people who have received letters from their ISPs for downloading (illegal) movies via torrent. Short of a lawsuit, I can't think of much more to deter an individual from downloading via torrents. Not to mention, I know some fairly non-tech-savvy people who have managed to install a program like uTorrent with which to download movies. That serves as an example to support my thoughts of technology becoming far too accessible these days for people who don't understand the inherent ramifications of the usage of any respective program/application/etc., but that's a conversation for another time.
Overwhelmingly, the message here is that privacy on the Internet is an illusion; but at least you can narrow down your hitbox by utilizing more private services like Torrific in lieu of public offerings, like BitTorrent clients.
Have any of you out there ever received a letter from your ISP? Likewise, do you have any stories to share of your BitTorrent experiences, be it tips for remaining as anonymous as possible when using a BitTorrent client or otherwise? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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