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Encrypted Torrents Growing Fast In the UK

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the deeply-inspect-all-you-want dept.

Encryption 432

angryphase writes "The British Phonographic Institute (the UK's RIAA) has noticed a significant increase in the amount of encrypted torrents — from 4% of torrent traffic a year ago to 40% today. Whether it follows a trend for hiding suspicious activities or an increased awareness of personal privacy is up for (weak) debate. Either way, this change of attitude is catching the eye of ISPs, music industry officials, and enforcement agencies. Matt Phillips, spokesman for the UK record industry trade association explains, 'Our internet investigations team, internet service providers and the police are well aware of encryption technology: it's been around for a long time and is commonplace in other areas of internet crime. It should come as no surprise that if people think they can hide illegal activity they will attempt to.'"

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Or maybe.... (5, Insightful)

jnaujok (804613) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283167)

Maybe it's because all the more recent clients are supporting encryption by default?

Re:Or maybe.... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21283327)

>Maybe it's because all the more recent clients are supporting encryption by default?

exactly - especially the latest 'official' bittorent client (the one based on utorrent)

pls mod parent up

Re:Or maybe.... (5, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283413)

Maybe it's because all the more recent clients are supporting encryption by default?

Your snail mail is able to deliver packages in plain brown wrappers. Online the delivery is in clear plastic baggies and carried by many people besides the government post office. In addition, third parties are able to examine your packets. Now that expensive attacks are happening because of the contents of some of these displayed packets to others, the search for security envelopes has began. The mail from an to my bank is not in clear packages. My online packets should have the same expectation of privacy.

Vendors of the envelopes has noticed the users crying the packages are transparent and the carrier is not providing privacy. Vendors are responding with providing security envelopes in place of the transparent packaging.

The real world security breaches have shown the need.

Re:Or maybe.... (2)

0x15e (961860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283565)

I wish I had mod points right now. That's a fantastic analogy, IMO.

Re:Or maybe.... (5, Funny)

pluther (647209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283609)

I wish I had mod points right now. That's a fantastic analogy, IMO.

I dunno... could have used a car in it somewhere...

Re:Or maybe.... (2, Funny)

wellingtonsteve (892855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283655)

or a truck?

Re:Or maybe.... (2, Funny)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283711)

Or tubes?

Re:Or maybe.... (5, Interesting)

secPM_MS (1081961) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283571)

Actually, I expect a full scale move to encryption for all web traffic. ISP's can rob the web sites (which are supported by advertising) by using deep stream filtering and reconstruction to rip out adds from the web site and replace them with adds that they are paid to display. The equipment that Comcast is using is quite capable of it. Once the web sites realize the threat by malicious middlemen, we will see them pony up for crypto hardware and move en-mass to HTTPS. At that point, essentially all traffic will be encrypted and middlemen will be blocked.

Re:Or maybe.... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21283815)

except for the vast majority of people who just run whatever "Install The Internets" package provided by their ISP; this package will add a special ISP trusted root certificate to keep the browser from reporting an invalid certificate when they transparently proxy your HTTPS sessions and replace the keys (so they can still monitor/modify your traffic)

They'll demand the right.. (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283177)

They'll demand the right to see what's being encrypted.

Guy Fawkes masks all around

Maybe... (3, Insightful)

Matt867 (1184557) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283183)

Maybe its because they aren't doing anything illegal yet they are being prosecuted?

Re:Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21283599)

Since when is copyright violation and stealing music not illegal?

Re:Maybe... (5, Insightful)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283695)

Since when is BitTorrent only used for copyright violation and stealing music? I could be using BitTorrent completely legally, and still have an ISP trying to delay/block/throttle/etc those packets. If I encrypt them, it's harder to do.

Encryption Alert: +1, PatRIOTic (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21283189)

Memo

To: All Revolution Participants
From: Agent 1011128

Encrypt all communications because Mr. Evil [whitehouse.org] is listening. [rawstory.com]

Regards,
Kilgore Trout, ACTIVIST

Could someone clarify... (5, Insightful)

Arathon (1002016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283195)

why anyone thinks the encryption will be effective? Since the RIAA (for example) catches torrenters by downloading the file from them in order to prove that they were 'making copyrighted content available', it doesn't really seem to matter whether or not it's encrypted. You're sending the RIAA a file that won't be encrypted on their end....

Re:Could someone clarify... (1)

eneville (745111) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283265)

I think it could be argued that you're sending some data... Its just that their client happens to apply some algo to it that happens to put it together in the style of a MP3/OGG or something else.

Re:Could someone clarify... (5, Insightful)

shark72 (702619) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283597)

"I think it could be argued that you're sending some data... Its just that their client happens to apply some algo to it that happens to put it together in the style of a MP3/OGG or something else."

This would be about as useless as a child pornographer arguing that all they did is send JPEGs; it was the client who just happened to put it through a JPEG decompresser.

The laugh test applies to this one. If you're using a tool to break copyright law -- any tool -- the particulars of the storage mechanism don't mean much.

Re:Could someone clarify... (5, Insightful)

click2005 (921437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283275)

It seems to be more about stopping Comcast/BT style bandwidth throttling than trying to stay anonymous.

Re:Could someone clarify... (1)

z0idberg (888892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283749)

Exactly, and if I had to put my money on the cause for the recent increase it would be all the exposure Comcast received when it was caught doing this.

It raised awareness of the ability to encrypt BT traffic and provided a very good reason to do so.

Nice work Comcast!

Re:Could someone clarify... (4, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283283)

i don't think that's the purpose.

the purpose is to make the traffic not recognizable (to a degree) as torrent traffic so it can bypass the mindless traffic shaping of torrent traffic by some ISPs.

Re:Could someone clarify... (4, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283285)

So we're locking something and then handing them the keys to those locks in an attempt to keep them from using it in a way that we don't want them to? My how the tables have turned...

But in all seriousness, it's not hiding the activity from the end users, but from the ISPs that are blocking torrent traffic.

Excellent question (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283365)

...and I'd like to find out a summary of implementation details that answers that question.

If the scheme does not use a crypto-based trust mechanism, then there may be ways to decrypt and find out who is downloading what. OTOH if its really clever, then a snoop might be able to see what's being downloaded without seeing who.

Re:Could someone clarify... (5, Informative)

fictionpuss (1136565) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283385)

Torrent encryption [wikipedia.org] was developed primarily to avoid traffic-shaping. E.g. a good percentage of those legitimately downloading Fedora 8 today via torrent will probably use encryption just to ensure a quicker download.

Re:Could someone clarify... (5, Informative)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283397)

It's not for that.

Encryption prevents traffic analysis, which means that a router can't easily detect that something is a BitTorrent connection and throttle it.

Really this seems to be a case of "the more you tighten your grip, the more will slip through your fingers". The excessive amount of filtering first made sure that about everything learned to talk over port 80. Now they'll add encryption over that, so that ultimately a large percentage of traffic will be completely opaque and going through port 80, making it pretty much impossible to filter.

There might be a consequence for the RIAA though: It means that no traffic analysis will tell you what somebody is downloading. Sure you can see which computers and tracker are involved, but you don't know what's the file being transferred. So no way to tell anything by listening to traffic at strategic points, now you need to maintain a connection with a tracker for every file you want to monitor.

As an user this doesn't seem like such a bad thing, but as a sysadmin it has the potential of becoming quite annoying. Read on what it takes to stop Skype from working for a preview of what might become universal eventually.

Re:Could someone clarify... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21283669)

>Encryption prevents traffic analysis

They'll just throttle encrypted traffic. Duh.

Most people use non-encrypted data for browsing with the occasional short burst of SSL. Anything they can't read gets throttled. Their pipes, their rules.

Re:Could someone clarify... (4, Interesting)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283807)


Rogers Canada throttles all encrypted packets, (I use citrix to connect into work) so this year I dropped them as an ISP, and told them why. Having no problems with my current provider, and they still supported me, when I told them I was running all Ubuntu/Debian on my home network.

> Their pipes, their rules.
Except you have paid to lease that pipe with a promised level of service. XXX GB/month cap, or "unlimited" YYY MBPS means exactly what it says. Would you still pay your full electrical/gas bill if they drop your line voltage/gas pressure 90% every time you really need it? They have oversold their service and can't deliver.

Re:Could someone clarify... (1)

DriveDog (822962) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283689)

If I'm not mistaken, examining the what is not the traditional definition of "traffic analysis," but rather only the where - volume and time of data between which points.

disclaimer: Of course what I write here does not reflect anything about my employer's opinions, etc.

Re:Could someone clarify... (1)

BlowChunx (168122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283699)

Your ISP will just disallow UDP packets to your house.

Then of course, P2P will just institute TCP/IP port knocking to randomize and protect itself.

Re:Could someone clarify... (3, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283725)

why anyone thinks the encryption will be effective?

Effective for what? Who gives a shit about pirates? ISPs are interfering with torrents whether copyright infringement is happening or not. If Comcast is going to forge packets that interfere with your Ubuntu download, then you need to have that download happen inside a secured pipe, so that packets from the other end are authenticated.

And yes, that will help.

Personally, I think bittorrent is a generally bad idea; http should usually be used instead, so that the ISPs can cache things closer to the downloader. But they're not doing it! Instead of trying to really solve the network load problems in a non-user-hostile way, they're filtering. So the trend toward using crap like bittorrent is going to continue. And to make it reliable, it's going to be encrypted. We're heading toward a situation where everything needs to be encrypted anyway.

If that makes things harder for the xxAA, oh well, too bad. But like you said, they can just participate in the torrents, and gather info that way.

Re:Could someone clarify... (1)

c (8461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283793)

> Since the RIAA (for example) catches torrenters by downloading the file from them

Actually, evidence so far indicates that the RIAA doesn't seem to bother downloading anything.

c.

Is encryption private? (4, Interesting)

kyle11 (1186311) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283199)

I'm curious. Do we all have a right (by DMCA in US) or otherwise to the encryption we put on our data? Does it take a court order or other legal instrument to lawfully break encryption? IANAL, but I would think that decrypting the traffic would be unreasonable search and invasion of privacy myself.

Re:Is encryption private? (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283249)

I don't think so. However, if you claim the encryption is a "copyright protection device" and you actually own the right to whatever it is you're encrypting, you can probably slap them upside the head with a DMCA violation.

Re:Is encryption private? (5, Interesting)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283337)

Somebody should create a file sharing program that has the user create a small copyrightable piece of art, and encrypt it along with the data to be transfered. Any attempt to decrypt the data is also (illegally) decrypting your copyrighted art.

Re:Is encryption private? (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283629)

The program could just ask you to wiggle your mouse and then draw random lines based on those wiggles. They'll call it "Modern Art".

Re:Is encryption private? (4, Insightful)

shark72 (702619) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283743)

"Somebody should create a file sharing program that has the user create a small copyrightable piece of art, and encrypt it along with the data to be transfered. Any attempt to decrypt the data is also (illegally) decrypting your copyrighted art."

Stuff like that's been tried. I recall somebody writing a script to ROT13 song names in P2P indexes. This was in the days of Kazaa or even the original Napster, if I recall. The reason was the equally bogus claim that undoing the ROT13 violated the DMCA.

Some time ago I ran a pretty popular site exposing Make Money Fast letters and their writers. A popular claim at the time was that if you called your chain letter a "recipe exchange" or added the words "please add me to your mailing list" when you sent your money, you were actually paying for a service. Like your decryption idea, these served solely as panaceas to make the participant think they were getting one over on the powers that be. That is all.

Putting it another way: courts have something called "the laugh test" and this would not pass it. A false hope that somehow you can sue a record label for decrypting your artwork might get you some sympathy from the uninformed masses (the same legal geniuses who've marked your post "Insightful"), but will do you not one bit of good when the record company takes your house.

Re:Is encryption private? (1)

Ragein (901507) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283577)

In the Uk it's illegal to withhold a password to encrypted data from the police so I would assume that they have the right to break any decryption they feel like, ofc this doesn't apply within the US.

Re:Is encryption private? (1)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283707)

Truecrypt was written with such a scenario in mind - You can encrypt a file with two passwords, one unlocks mundane stuff, the other password unlocks things you truly want kept secret from everybody, which is kept in a hidden area of the filesystem.

Re:Is encryption private? (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283781)

interesting. but if the police knew you were using truecrypt, couldnt they force you to give them both keys?

Re:Is encryption private? (1)

shredswithpiks (867616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283717)

I'm not sure if the DMCA says anything about it, but it seems to me that any person looking at any traffic you aren't sending to them is (or should be) illegal. How would this be relevantly different from an illegal wire (phone) tap?

Re:Is encryption private? (2, Informative)

shark72 (702619) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283823)

"I'm not sure if the DMCA says anything about it, but it seems to me that any person looking at any traffic you aren't sending to them is (or should be) illegal. How would this be relevantly different from an illegal wire (phone) tap?"

Because BitTorrent isn't a one-to-one, private transaction. It's anonymous, one-to-many. You make that Kanye West rip available, and anybody with a BitTorrent client can get it. It makes no difference if they're another Kanye West fan, or the record label that would very much like to stop you from distributing their stuff for free.

This is how the record companies bust people: they use P2P clients to see what you're offering. And, no, it's not entrapment. This is a no-free-lunch situation: if you share copyrighted stuff without permission, you're liable to be nailed, and the DMCA can't help you here.

Is it just me? (5, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283201)

... or is this yet another hit on the use of privacy-protecting encryption?

I use encryption all day long in a very legal, legitimate form. (ssl/ssh/mcrypt) It's a core part of my operating principles - I don't even allow unencrypted connections to my production systems - EVERYTHING IS SSL ENCRYPTED.

So it really annoys me when the case is made that (encryption == criminal). Yes it can be used for illegal purposes. So can cars, guns, and tennis rackets. It's not the tool that identifies the crime, it's the crime that identifies the crime.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

DarkNebula (881729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283315)

You're right but in context what do you REALLY think has caused such a high jump? People wanting to encrypt their... file sharing data... and what's a reason for doing that.... hmmm.... especially in a single year.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

fatal wound (582897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283425)

The high jump? Probably caused by more of the free clients supporting encryption. I would wager that most people who engage in file sharing merely use the client they find most useful. If it supports encryption, good. If it doesn't, so what? I doubt they are attempting to "push the envelope", but are trying to share files. If encryption is in the mix... it is probably only a by product and not the original intention.

Not just that... you realize this is a piece... (2, Insightful)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283379)

Not just that... you realize this is a piece... of a much bigger puzzle.

They have to get the regular sheeple to clamor for back doors to be put into all encryption software.

It has little to do with "stolen moozak" or whatever crap they're claiming. That's just to make a legit story.

"We want to know what you ate for breakfast" is not going to sit so well with the common sheep as "moozak is being stolen, save us, those illegal encryptors are stealing our muzak!!"

And it will be the MASSES that vote themselves out of this freedom, also... it will not be the few, the intelligent, the strong, the resilient or the self sufficient, to whom these tools are useful.

PS - I agree on the encryption. My servers accept nothing without it :) And I accept no actual private email without it either...

Re:Not just that... you realize this is a piece... (1)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283525)

"And I accept no actual private email without it either..."

How did that go? I have considered configuring my system to reject any unencrypted email. (It would surely cut down on spam for a while, though that is not the primary goal.) However, after talking to my friends and family about it, I concluded that none of my family and few of my friends would ever email me again, and my phone bill would go way up.

Re:Is it just me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21283423)

Look, I'm no fan of the RIAA or MPAA, but illegal torrent downloads are just that: illegal. Hiding behind encryption is a privacy issue? I think not. No more than wearing a ski mask is a privacy issue / constitutional right for a bank robber. I should think that using encryption to hide your crime should add an additional charger or two to your indictment. Like felony evading/eluding, maybe a conspiracy charge as well (since you chose to use encryption ahead of time to conceal a crime). For those of you using legal torrents, this of course is N/A.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

know1 (854868) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283575)

let's ban ski masks then.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283687)

Hiding behind encryption is a privacy issue? I think not. No more than wearing a ski mask is a privacy issue / constitutional right for a bank robber.

But it's perfectly legal for me to wear a ski mask into a bank. It's even perfectly legal for me to carry a gun into a bank. (no, I'm not kidding, though in California you'd need a permit to carry a gun in a public place)

What's illegal is robbing the bank. Wearing a ski mask is not a crime. Carrying a gun is not a crime. It's robbing a bank that is a crime. Don't blame the ski mask! Don't blame the gun! Blame the ROBBER!

If you assume that encrypted == criminal, then I'm one of the biggest criminals around - I transfer 100s of GB of data every single day on encrypted connections.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283783)

[RI,MP]AA can still actively download the torrented file from your system in the context of being an end-user and at least begin a case there.

This prevents people intercepting in the middle of a transfer and throttling, sniffing and otherwise tampering with packets in transit. That torrent packet of Slack 12 could be nigh indistinguishable from the torrent packet of Purple Rain anyway, as it's only ~1500 bytes of data, tops.

Thank intelligent filtering (3, Insightful)

lavalyn (649886) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283215)

If Comcast is going to disrupt Bittorrent traffic, all users will see benefit from using encrypted Bittorrent, just to keep Comcast's systems from sending the RSTs to them. Even a UK user, talking to an American system. Legitimate traffic or otherwise.

Re:Thank intelligent filtering (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283369)

From what I understand, Comcast was sending the RSTs based on traffic patterns and port use, not what the packets contained. That's how they were able to catch encrypted traffic as well.

I got new for you (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283461)

Comcast may be falsifying/ending recognizable bittorrent traffic... but my experience shows that they severely throttle any upstream traffic that's encrypted. Try a large-ish upload with scp sometime and you'll see what I mean... your throughput will be greatly reduced within 20-30 seconds.

Captain obvious moved to the UK? (5, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283217)

Matt Phillips, spokesman for the UK record industry trade association explains, 'Our internet investigations team, internet service providers and the police are well aware of encryption technology: it's been around for a long time and is commonplace in other areas of internet crime. It should come as no surprise that if people think they can hide illegal activity they will attempt to.'"
(emphasis mine)

Why why why why is it automatically assumed that encryption by non-government entities is in actual fact an attempt to cover up illegal activity?

I believe that in general, western societies have set up laws that generally respect the rights of an individual to whisper a secret in the ear of a friend and not be forced to reveal the message to anyone else. If I choose to encrypt email and torrent files, there is no reason that I should be thought guilty of some crime... fscking idiots.

It would entertain me greatly for them to find out that these illegal encrypted downloads were in fact, a Linux distribution.

Re:Captain obvious moved to the UK? (5, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283419)

Saying that encrypting traffic is only used to cover up illegal activity is like saying that sealing the envelope before giving it to your postal carrier is only being used to hide illegal activity. In fact, there are laws in the US saying that you can't open a letter that's not yours, so why is it so suspicious suddenly when we demand and enforce the same thing online?

Re:Captain obvious moved to the UK? (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283533)

All people doing illegal activity will encrypt. That's basicly true.

Not all encrypters are doing something illegal.

Re:Captain obvious moved to the UK? (1)

fatal wound (582897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283563)

I so *TOTALLY* agree! We put our snail mail in envelopes... does that automatically make us some kind of terrorist or anarchist because our local postal (read "federal employees") cannot read what is in the envelope easily?


The funny thing I find in that assumption is that the people making it (the government) are *more* likely to use encryption for dishonest reasons than the average joe (anybody remember the CIA drugs for guns scandals?? Do you think their communications were unencrypted?).


-----------------

Yeah, yeah. I need a cool sig.

Re:Captain obvious moved to the UK? (1)

alan_dershowitz (586542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283569)

Why why why why is it automatically assumed that encryption by non-government entities is in actual fact an attempt to cover up illegal activity?
In this case it is not automatically assumed. A significant portion of bittorrent traffic is in fact infringing copyright. If a bunch of it suddenly goes encrypted, I don't know why you wouldn't suspect that the encrypted traffic wasn't largely illegal as well. It may well not be, but the fact that it's encrypted works against that assumption based on the legality of unencrypted traffic. You can see that a large portion of visible traffic is infringing and you can exclude from your stats the stuff that isn't; you can't exclude the legal stuff if the content is encrypted, therefore your best indication is that it's probably just like most other BT traffic, illegal. Nobody may like hearing that, but it's the truth.

Re:Captain obvious moved to the UK? (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283733)

Why why why why is it automatically assumed that encryption by non-government entities is in actual fact an attempt to cover up illegal activity?

Probably because statistically, a lot of it is to cover up illegal activity.

That's not an excuse for making the assumption, and it's certainly not an excuse for treating is as evidence in any sort of legal action, but it does explain the mindset.

One solution to the fact that a relatively high proportion of encrypted Internet traffic is illegal is to ban the encryption. Of course, another is to encrypt everything, as it long should have been anyway to prevent anyone other than the sender and the intended recipient accessing private data.

Re:Captain obvious moved to the UK? (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283847)

why is it automatically assumed that encryption by non-government entities is in actual fact an attempt to cover up illegal activity?

It isn't really assumed. Their statement is pretty much along the lines of, "criminals are starting to use these new-fangled automobiles." Nothing to see here, except the versatility of the automo-- oops, I mean -- cryptography and its use in solving the problem of insecure/unreliable networks.

It's a hostile network. RIAA is just one minor player. There are governments, criminals, voyeurs, packet-forging ISPs, etc out there. You have to secure the links at the endpoints. Encrypt.

Perhaps... (3, Insightful)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283221)

They are trying to avoid packet-shaping?

TorrentFS? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283227)

If the encryption really works, then I might distribute a lot of my own personal storage to torrent networks, and just cache locally only copies of what I need to access fast and often. Not only would I have a much larger storage capacity, but I could replace or upgrade (or enlarge) my local storage only whenever I liked the price point, or after something actually failed, without worrying about losing any data. And I could get all of my data from anywhere I connect to the torrent network.

Now what would really kick this system to the Moon would be a new Linux filesystem that did all that automatically. Hide the torrent logins and protocols, giving me just the same view of my personal index, caching stuff and managing storage/retrieval invisibly. Then I could take a 4GB thumbdrive with my Desktop and that torrent filesystem wherever I want, safely and securely.

Re:TorrentFS? (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283363)

a: The communications channel is encrypted. The data itself is decrypted at the recipient.
b: Why would BitTorrent users store your encrypted data on their systems for free and provide you with free bandwidth? Remember, in "normal" BT use, everybody gets something.

Re:TorrentFS? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283435)

the problem as i see it would be keeping track of different versions of the same file in a torrent, which i don't believe there is any provision for in the protocol.

if you change a file in a torrent, you pretty much have to make a completely new swarm and all that entails, as that change requires a new hash for that file and a new hash for the torrent on the whole.

i don't see how bittorrent would work for that (unless it might be doable through some interesting hack, like Azureus's alternate distributed tracking thingy, though i don't see how), though one could quite likely make a BT-like protocol for such a thing, though that then introduces the problem of adoption.

Re:TorrentFS? (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283531)

Only the connection is encrypted, all the data is readable to other peers. Also, using torrent networks as storage is not very reliable, you would still need at least one seed (or one full copy of the file between the peers). Most people would not be very interested in seeding a torrent whose only purpose is personal storage, so this would be a problem.

Unless you meant building a private torrent network, where every peer is a computer you own&control. In which case you would probably be better off using a real distributed FS.

Now that I think about it more, perhaps you meant a public network where every peer has parts of someones private files in encrypted form? That would be an interesting concept, but I believe it would be more efficient to have the files on a private server somewhere.

Re:TorrentFS? (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283653)

If the encryption really works, then I might distribute a lot of my own personal storage to torrent networks, and just cache locally only copies of what I need to access fast and often.

Similar concept to Freenet, but Freenet is really really slow and no guarantee you'll ever get back anything you put on it. As for bittorrent, that only works if you can convince a bunch of people to not only download the "files" you want to distribute, but to keep them available for downloading at some undetermined point in the future. Bittorrent is great for propagating large files in high demand to many people quickly, but it really sucks as a persistence system.

You would be better off either getting a server somewhere and storing an encrypted imagine on it, or else using one of the network storage websites that have cropped up lately. Of course all this costs money, but hey, no such thing as a free lunch.

Re:TorrentFS? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283721)

I'm not really sure why you think other people will let you store a lot of your crap on their systems, and let you use a lot of bandwidth to access it.

That said, distributed, encrypted file systems are nothing new; Freenet works like that. Each node downloads a few MB of encrypted files and stores them, and is totally unaware of what's being stored. There is a complicated system for pulling up pages from other nodes, letting you navigate it in a way similar to the WWW. But it's all run basically on charity. If you started using it as your personal file-storage vault, at the expense of local storage, and everyone else did, too, it would break down.

IMO, the main reason that doesn't happen to Freenet is because it's almost unusably slow. (Or at least it was the last time I tried it, about 2 years ago.)

evolution (5, Insightful)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283231)

you know how antibiotics have a huge downside, in that the infection can evolve and become resistant? There's a similar downside to the RIAA's tactics with regard to torrents- now that everything is heading towards being encrypted, it's going to create a (somewhat) safe haven for child pornography to skip through undetected. If the traffic can't be monitored at all, then people you really are trafficking something terrible are going to be able to do it more easily.

Re:evolution (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283799)

I like this tactic.

Can we find a way to accuse the RIAA of supporting terrorism, too?

Or maybe... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283271)

It should come as no surprise that if people think they can hide illegal activity they will attempt to.'
Or maybe it's all the traffic profiling we've been hearing so much about. And when they finally force all the pirates that don't want to become debt slaves for the rest of their lives into fully anonymous encrypted networks and all sorts of wierd shit go unchecked, they can whine and complain all they want but then they've really screwed themselves up one side and down the other.

People hide illegal activity? (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283277)

From my research into the daily actions of differing people I meet and know, I would say that legal actions are hidden more closely than illegal ones. I grew up in a "mob town" of Rosemont, Illinois, and saw that most illegal activity was out in the open, relatively known by common citizens and the police department (both corrupt and straight). In the town I live in today, the drug dealers, prostitutes and other "criminals" are relatively out in the open also. Sure, there are a lot of criminals who attempt to obfuscate their identity or actions to try to get ahead of the law, but in reality, the best way to perform a crime profitablly is to just pay off the overseers of the law. Problem solved, and you can expand your market because you can be more open about it.

Yes it is the LEGAL activities that surprise me at how much people try to hide. Look at slashdot. My name, my real name, is right here. You can look me up and call me or visit my home. I hide nothing, why should I? Yet most of you are hiding your identities for whatever reason -- and how many of you are doing something illegal by posting here? Browse the blogs, too, and see how many people use their real names.

We hide more than that -- I brought up the question of sex (marital) with a friend, and he freaked when I asked him about his sex life. As if sex when you're married is immoral or illegal, but still people hide behind the idea that we need privacy about such matters.

Most of what the law officers do is hidden, with even FOIA acts not bringing much information to light. This is supposedly legal operations of people who serve me, and yet I have no ability to discern what they're doing, and if they're doing their jobs right. Again, hidden yet probably legal actions.

The more I look around my life, the more I am amazed at how private people are, because they're afraid that some of their actions may be construed as immoral, or immature -- yet most of the people in my life are doing the exact same thing as others, and just hiding it. We post on forums and blogs, but we feel we must keep our names private because others might see what we write, even if others are thinking the same thoughts, or if those same others pretend to believe in freedom of expression but may secretly use it against you.

In terms of encrypting torrents, I do. I run a video sharing site for church videos, and all our torrents are legal and public domain. Yet we encrypt it because unencrypted torrents seem to run slower (I'm sure there is a reason for this, but I never really inspected the protocol specs). Therefore, we encrypt not to obfuscate the legality of what we're sharing, but because the market's limitations on torrent sharing give us a need to encrypt so we can provide a higher bandwidth for the sharing of legal, public domain content.

Are most torrents legal? I have no idea, but I do use torrents to send large files to multiple people every day in a variety of markets I do business in. For me, the torrent is an awesome solution to a problem I've had for years dealing with large files.

Re:People hide illegal activity? (-1, Troll)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283505)

We hide more than that -- I brought up the question of sex (marital) with a friend, and he freaked when I asked him about his sex life. As if sex when you're married is immoral or illegal, but still people hide behind the idea that we need privacy about such matters.

It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the simple fact that fucking my wife should be none of your business. If your friend wants to bring up his sex life w/you, that's one thing but for you to ask him about his, that's something out of line IMHO and it has nothing to do w/morality or otherwise.

As far as bloggers that attempt to hide their identity, that's something I guess I don't truly understand unless we're talking about those with insider information or some other secrecy attempt. For those that aren't using their real names and are writing about their daily lives online, they're just being silly.

As you can see, while I opted for the username of "garcia", I still post my real name with a link to my personal website (where I also list my real name). I want people to find me online and I have nothing to hide there.

Re:People hide illegal activity? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283727)

Exactly. His friend should of said "That's none of your fucking business."

Re:People hide illegal activity? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21283573)

Mod: Could you please highlight the part of this magnum-opus epic poesy you found "interesting?" Because jesus, what a firehose torrent of boring.

Re:People hide illegal activity? (0, Troll)

BenFenner (981342) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283589)

Dear dada21,

I looked you up in the national phone directory and could not find you. I tried other methods, and couldn't get any contact information, personal or otherwise based on your given name. Maybe you're unlisted? Maybe you don't live in the United States?

Please look me up instead to initiate contact. That might work out better.

-Ben Fenner

Re:People hide illegal activity? (2, Interesting)

ardor (673957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283619)

There is a simple rule:

What is known about you can be used against you.

Just search for senator sex scandals and the subsequent end of their careers.
Another example: before WW2, it was common to ask immigrants about their ethnic origin. This information was archived, and later used when concentration camps for Japanese were created.
Or, imagine ultra-orthodox "Born Again" christians take over the US government, and start "cleansing" (read: slaughtering) the "tainted" (read: anybody practicing sex, any religion except Christianity, civil rights activists etc.).
The rule aboe is the reason why only YOU should have authority about disclosing your personal information, and why you should be careful.

Re:People hide illegal activity? (0, Troll)

BenFenner (981342) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283693)

About those senators and the sex scandals. I know of someone higher up the chain with a sex scandal who's career was not ruined. The difference I see is in the style/attitude with which the person treated the "scandal". It seems if you fess up, and don't treat it as a big deal, others will be more apt to follow your lead. Which is exactly the point here. Information may be used against you, but for the most part you have to let it work against you.

Re:People hide illegal activity? (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283741)

This assumes you have control over the way it is used. This is rarely the case. Most of the time you get to know about these plots when its too late already. In other words, usually its like pandora's box.

Re:People hide illegal activity? (0, Troll)

BenFenner (981342) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283825)

Still, you must let it hurt you. If your career is ruined, hopefully you realized this was a possibility, and played your cards accordingly. If it were to happen to me, I'd shrug, say "You caught me" and go on my merry way. Taking away my career should not ruin me. I don't mean to bring existentialism into this but I have. If you don't believe you have ultimate control over what ruins you and what doesn't, you've already lost the game.

Re:People hide illegal activity? (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283759)

ardor: I appreciate that viewpoint. I also disagree.

In my experience, the best thing for my "career" has been openness. I'm an anarcho-capitalist, yet I get hired by companies who knows it. I'm a Pantelist, yet hundreds of Dispensationalist churches hire me even though I disagree vehemently with their view on the Bible. My religious background from my parents is Muslim/Roman-Catholic, which I am open about, yet I work with Jews, Hindus, Evangelicals and Atheists. When I fight with my wife, I'm not afraid to discuss it openly (either on my blog, or with people I know who complain about their spouses). When I received my first kidney stone (and later, a hemorrhoid), I had no embarassment to share the pain and the fix with others. I don't mask the fact that I like to go out and have an expensive glass of Scotch (even the most anti-drinking Christian clients of mine know), and I don't hide the fact that I love Vegas for the lack of law-oversight in many actions I deem non-harmful to others.

If the day comes that a whacko takes over government (and I'd say that day has come a long time ago), I have the choice to move. If they come to ethnically cleanse me, what difference would it make if I hid my beliefs or was open about them? I pride myself on my beliefs, and the only way I can make the world better is by sharing my ups and downs with others, so they may some day come to understand and even agree with what I believe in. You would be surprised how many devout Evangelicals have changed their doctrine to Preterism after talking with me for years or months -- even though I risked losing business and a significant investment by sharing those details. You'd be surprised how many Jews hire me knowing I come from a Muslim background (heck, a Jewish gal even married me) and support all religions and faiths in a freedom to worship God their way. A lot of family told me to hide my background, in fact two of my relatives are fairly famous and went so far to change their names to hide their heritage.

I see no reason to hide myself. I've screwed up, often. I still do, every day. But when I share these things with others, a trust level is created even though I've screwed people over in the past. That trust level is important to me, because it gives me a sense of stability with my relationships with others. When I do screw up, and I do often, they're more willing to hear me out, especially if I am honest about the screw up (usually it is laziness combined with a bad case of A.D.D.). The flip side is having to make excuses, or having to try to change something inherent about myself.

Re:People hide illegal activity? (1)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283765)

Some of us just like to keep things separate.

For example, this account is named after my Second Life avatar. I have another much older account as well. I keep nearly separated identities in SL, an IRC channel and RL, and people who know me in one of those rarely know who I am in one of the others.

My main reason is that I like peace and quiet, and separation makes sure that arguments and drama from one place don't propagate to the other.

Then there's some completely legal activity that people don't like to advertise much. Drawing pokemon porn, or having virtual sex with a furry avatar in SL (I don't do that) is completely legal, but that's not the sort of thing people would like their boss or coworkers to find.

Libel, anyone? (3, Insightful)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283279)

[...] in other areas of internet crime. It should come as no surprise that if people think they can hide illegal activity they will attempt to.
I'm not an expert on this kind of stuff, but hasn't the MAFIAA furnished BitTorrent copyright holders and maybe even the interviewed ISP's customers the perfect occasion to take a nice bit of revenge? They realize it's encrypted, they realize they don't have a fucking clue about what's running through the pipes, yet they criminalize it? Free speech is great and all, but this seems like openly stating that thousands of users participate in illegal actions, without any proof.

Traffic shaping? (1)

Wazukkithemaster (826055) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283329)

doesn't azureus support a type of encryption to aid in getting around traffic shaping?

http://www.azureuswiki.com/index.php/Avoid_traffic_shaping [azureuswiki.com]

Perhaps if they quit nuking our connections we'd stop trying to stop them from nuking our connections.

Oh no! Encryption is evil! (1)

Sunshinerat (1114191) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283343)

it's been around for a long time and is commonplace in other areas of internet crime.

This just sounds like encryption is something only the mob uses and needs to be banned. If they want to know what happens in encrypted stream they need to find a way how to do so, until then, encryption is here to stay. In this day, there is no reason to send unencrypted data from point to point, it does not matter if my streams contain legal or illegal content.

Transactions (1)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283377)

"Our internet investigations team, internet service providers and the police are well aware of encryption technology: it's been around for a long time and is commonplace in other areas of internet crime."

This statement infers that all encrypted traffic is somehow related to internet crime. If I encrypt my credit card number before sending it to Amazon.com or newegg.com or where ever, would the insinuation carry on to say that I am conducting internet crime by conducting a legitimate commercial transaction, or that the online store is engaged in criminal activity?

Passwords? Point-of-sale credit card and debit card readers? VPNs for those telecommuting to work, or just connecting multiple office buildings?

There's a LOT of encrypted traffic out there, and most of it because we don't trust the other people on the internet to responsibly use the information if they gained access to it.

Encryption == Illegal Activity (2, Insightful)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283387)

Matt Phillips, spokesman for the UK record industry trade association explains, 'Our internet investigations team, internet service providers and the police are well aware of encryption technology: it's been around for a long time and is commonplace in other areas of internet crime. It should come as no surprise that if people think they can hide illegal activity they will attempt to.'
So they assume that because someone is using encryption that they must be doing something illegal. This is yet another reason that we need to start encrypting everything by default. It needs to be automatic or easy enough for the average joe or jane to use. Does anyone know the status of general purpose opportunistic encryption software these days?

Criminalizing Encryption (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283453)

The worst thing that will happen as a result of this is encryption in general becomes the equivalent of criminal intent.

Pre-emptively... (3, Insightful)

Ochu (877326) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283485)

I'd just like to point out that "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide" does not hold up. Apart from the myriad of things which, while not wrong, any sane person would want to hide, we need to keep it clear in judges minds that hiding something does not mean one was performing illegal activities. The comment by Matt Phillips hints at a worrying application of just that principle, and I can quite easily imagine the BPI or RIAA suing someone who they think was sharing copyrighted material, and using an encrypted torrent (which could contain anything) as evidence of that activity.

Re:Pre-emptively... (1)

RiffRafff (234408) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283585)

I came here to say that. Good job.

Taking it a step further, I believe ALL data communication should be encrypted...just because. Email, IM, thumb drives, etc. If only to emphasize that it's no one else's damn business.

Re:Pre-emptively... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21283851)

BPI British Pornographic Institute

RIAA Rectal Insertion Association of America

Yeah, nothing to hide there, spread it around. Unencrypted of course. =P

Serves them right (3, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283537)

Nobody has enough resources to monitor everyone, all the time. Cracking down on public P2P networks resulted in encrypted, invitation-only networks. If the pressure is still on, pretty soon we'll have office "potlucks" where everyone brings their music and movies to swap. Once people get completely pissed off about DRM, they will not mind analog copying with microphones and camcorders to get around it. If nothing else, it is possible to simply exchange movie discs or even portable players without even necessarily breaking the law. The end result is the same though - only one person in 10 will actually pay for the content they are viewing.

The solution? Unencumbered, reasonably priced, possibly watermarked legal product. Even Radiohead strategy yields 1/3 of the downloaders paying.

Re:Serves them right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21283663)

pretty soon we'll have office "potlucks" where everyone brings their music and movies to swap

This has been done (in person) ever since music and movies were on computers.

Before broadband was widely available, most of this sort of thing was done at LAN parties. Bring a drive full of your media and an empty drive, and leave with the empty drive full of everybody else's media.

Thank the traffic-shapers... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283593)

...for providing a perfect reason for encrypting that will even satisfy some small fraction of the "if you have nothing to hide..." crowd.

The Internet (5, Insightful)

driftingwalrus (203255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283625)

This reminds me of an old quote,

"The internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

Recording Industry associations: You are now being routed around. Congratulations.

Remember... (2, Interesting)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283647)

When people can communicate without government or big business listening, it must be illegal and it emboldens the terrorists!! It has to be stopped!!

pfft.... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283649)

"It should come as no surprise that if people think they can hide illegal activity they will attempt to."

And it should be remembered that the best way to live outside the law, is to live within it..."

encryption and crime (1)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283683)

"it's been around for a long time and is commonplace in other areas of internet crime".

Like DRM.

Re:encryption and crime (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283779)

Jeez. That's such a predictable comment. So predictable that I was going to post it myself:)

My traffic is none of your business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21283709)

Dear Copyright Nazi:

I don't want you to know what Linux distro I'm sharing today.

No Penguin for you!

IFPI website (1)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283849)

I have a link to the IFPIs website if anyone wants to take a look. http://www.ifpi.com/ [ifpi.com] i didn't see it in TFA. :)
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