back to article Ofcom talks to spook firm on filesharing snoop plan

Ofcom has held talks over a monitoring system that would peer inside filesharing traffic to determine the level of copyright infringement, in preparation for new laws designed to protect the music, film and software industries. The Digital Economy Bill, to be published by Lord Mandelson tomorrow, will require the communications …

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Big Brother

Does not compute

Still no explanation how this silly idea will work with encryption?

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Title

I wonder if the trialist ISP was a willing volunteer, or had it foisted upon them?

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Sounds like Phorm to me

So how is this legal when Phorm's version wasn't?

What likelihood is there of open, honest disclosure about what this system actually does?

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FAIL

Encryption

Quite how is this supposed to cope with a fully encrypted bit torrent client running of a dht tracker?

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Big Brother

Coming soon to a store near you....

Compulsory strip searching upon any attempt to leave, just in case you're guilty of something and haven't been discovered yet.

Privacy? Who needs privacy, except politicians.

AC, in an attempt to maintain some privacy for a little longer...

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WTF?

How will they do it?

I still don't see how they can identify material that is covered by copyright. Surely if someone takes a camcorder into the cinema, records a popular movie, then shares it, the file cannot be distinguished from one I might make of (say) a particularly exhilarating steam train ride and then share in exactly the same way.

Similarly if my son (who makes his own music) encodes his own MP3 file of his latest electronic wizardry, how does the file look ANY different from teenage_kicks.mp3 - apart from the file name?

They must be so clever and confident that they won't get any false positives that will result in innocent people getting nasty letters!

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Bronze badge
FAIL

encryption

have these guys heard of it?

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FAIL

Mmmm

Mmmm, shame we cant put this type of innovation and energy into tracking down paedos and the like.....still, it's much more important that the big exec's get their bonus's upped each year!!

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Stop

we have another hemorrhage

Another project that will never work properly will never fulfill its remit and will cost ridiculous amounts of money that currently this country doesn't have.

what a waste of a government.

I was hoping the queen might come t her senses yesterday "whats all this drivel? can none of you come up with any sensible ideas? I am now supreme ruler and there will be no more of this poppycock"

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likely timecourse

1. 50,000 infringers get a notification

2. They say to each other "WTFz? How iz I can not get dis fedz 4ssle?????"

3. They answer each other "Cryption, init."

4. They all turn encryption on.

Stage 4 will not happen until they implement the first warnings, and then the "community" will notice how easy it is, and it will become routine.

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Stop

route 2

So they couldn't get their spy kit installed via Phorm so they're forcing it through as a copyright enforcement tool.

If this is the beta trial, can we assume Phorm was the alpha?

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Anonymous Coward

Measurement

What the "rights holders" should do as a baseline is to weigh the film, DVDs CDs etc they're worried about, then after a little while weight them again. If there's a difference, they've got proof.

Alternatively, iot's well known that file sharers weigh more than a duck, so all internet users will have to get weighed as part of their right to use their connections.

There. Solved.

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WTF?

Snake Oil

Well they've obviously spotted the UK gov coming with this one.

If you think they can reliably 'reliably identify copyright material' then you're as deluded as the gvt.

It's not the first time BAE has pulled this kind of thing.

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is required

Cue the mass migration to encrypted or other obscuration methods. CView is declared a success and everyone gets a pat on the back, another bag of taxpayers cash and a peerage.

Next project: Another x millions pounds to create CViewSSL.

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Black Helicopters

They won't have to prove anything

How many people go to court to prove they haven't been speeding? Not many

All that will happen is they will see a large chunk of encrypted data coming from a non-recognised source and assume that it is pirated material.

They will then write to you and say 'You're nicked'

You will then have to prove you haven't pirated anything!

All these increasingly convoluted methods of encryption will be meaningless. When the Police arrest a crook they ask him. How do you pay your mortgage? If the crook doesn't have a verifiable explanation they take the house. Simple!

A better idea is to disguise your traffic as something else.

Kiddie Porn or something like that doesn't infringe their copyright

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FAIL

I can has...

... Darknet?

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Coat

VPN , encryption, DHT and other yummy things

I wonder how they will deal with : VPN, normal encryption , DHT

and also interesting idea, buy satellite internet from a company outside the UK but have the equipment here in the UK.

mine is the one with the quantum encryption and the echelon handbook

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FAIL

VPN FTW

The only 'sharers' this shit will catch are the plebs who have no clue how 'the internet' works.

Considering the price for a year sub to a decent vpn provider, i dont think their DPI is going to have any impact at all, well maybe it will pick off the low hanging fruit.

Looking at the way things are going it think its time everyone started getting vpn tunnels out of the UK/US/AUS and fully encrypt their HDD and portable storage.

I hear tinfoil hats are getting popular too!

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Flame

How will they do it?

May I politely remind you that the presumption of innocence IS NOT A FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT IN BRITISH LAW.

Do you have any other question on where and when exactly did this go fundamentally fubar?

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Anonymous Coward

@ John Robson

Fail? - Perhaps, short term...

There are countries and governments on this planet that prohibit it's populace from using encryption in communications of any kind.

Heard about encryption? Oh yes, they've heard of it aright, but what do they plan to do about it?

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Alert

@Nomen Publicus & Mark Talbot

http://xkcd.com/538/

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Grenade

Re: How will they do it?, David Lawrence

Oh silly consumer. Every corporate suit knows and makes sure his puppet politician knows that only professional musicians under contract with a music publisher (only those licensed by the global music publishers organisation, thanks) can legally make music. All the rest are by definition illegal and need to pay royalties or face warning letters. There, problem solved. False positives? There are no false positives.

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FAIL

How it will be FAIL (@David L)

They will assume any P2P traffic is naughty, since it might be and since we know that possibility means probability and probability is really certainty in the eyes of those wanting to do us harm.

Note here we are automatically guilty, with no defence, no trial, no evidence, no oversight, no redress, so therefore no 'false positives'

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Anonymous Coward

Title

"Detica suggested that a drop in the number of IP numbers collected would not be an accurate enough measure of the impact of the subsequent warning letters."

Why not? Surely if a million "IP numbers" were infringing, then letters were sent out, then only, say, half a million were then found to be infringing, wouldn't that strongly suggest that the letters *are* having an effect? It would certainly be a lot more accurate than simply measuring the volume of copyrighted material being distributed anyway, which can vary month by month and indeed from user to user.

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Anonymous Coward

look both ways.

Obviously Rapidshare, MegaUpload, etc etc, etc, won't be covered, only torrents.

Unless, of course, it will be covered, then it's not just file sharing traffic that's being monitored is it.

Encryption isn't the problem here, that'll be easily broken, especially if the ISP has the encryption key to start with, here I assume we're talking about something like uTorrent, not hard at all, you just need uTorrent to decrypt it like every else does whilst down/up loading.

Nor is it Phorm like, there's no hint of behavioural targetting here, just packet inspection at a very low level, so hereby the Gov't gets it's other wish fulfilled. Naturally GCHQ will want access to all data, thereby fulfilling their requirements.

Emails anyone, or what about whatever I type in El Reg comments, as being a threat to national security.

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Silver badge
FAIL

How do they determine what is legitimate or not?

If I'm away from home, I may want to legally stream content from my PS3 to my PSP, or from my media server to a laptop. How can they tell the difference between legal and illegal sharing of copyright material?

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FAIL

This is ridiculous!

As others have said, how the hell can they know with enough accuracy that the information being P2P'd is infringing?! It is completely possible that companies that have trials, release them onto P2P networks to reduce bandwidth - hell sharing Adobe CS4 TRIALS for example is, as far as I am aware, not copyright infringement. What about all those Linux distros on P2P, or freeware, or (more controversially) adandonware or even shareware?

Further: MCPS/PRS do NOT represent ALL artists and in fact all labels. Only those that are registered. And the last time I had to deal with them, their systems for getting the required codes and information were completely useless! Just to save time you end up just sending everything to them, hoping that those same systems can effectively filter out what is not needed. Neither is all music released on such ridiculously restrictive terms. Even better, live performances recorded by fans may, in some cases, be perfectly legitimately traded (e.g. outdoors gigs, I see indoors as a grey area, where if you are not told not to, you can, but if the band says "please don't" you shouldn't).

The whole premise seems to be based on Detica having a completely up-to-date, 100% accurate copyright register list AND every possible file / file imprint that matches to those registered copyrights. The fact that you can copyright something just by shoving Copyright "Me" YEAR, on it makes that a non-starter. So Detica can only have access to registered copyrights and something tells me that is nowhere near the same as what would be considered as copyrighted material. Plus they would need the complete assistance of all holders for it to be even remotely workable.

It's just not going to work, end of. The only way I can see it working would be for a limited list of "high-value" works to be checked for, with the list being updated to some schedule. "High-value" in this instance would be entirely decided by the rights holders and reflect their ideas of high-value.

Either way, it's yet another pointless chase for no benefit, costing god knows how much all at the expense of the customers of the ISPs who will bare the brunt.

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Pirate

What a crock

Why don't the government just take all the money that they were going to spend on this crock and make the most pirated goods cheaper and easier to obtain.

For example. Movies are pirated. I'm not talking about camcordered rubbish, I'm talking DVD rips from different global regions available before release date. What about TV series, that get recorded off the telly and up on torrent within 3 hours (with all the adverts removed).

Now if you spent your millions on a service that allowed people to stream - in HD - a movie from an online rental service for the same price it would cost to rent it from a shop AND to be able to do this on the day of release not 4 months later (Hope you're reading this Sky Box Office / Sky Movies / BTVision / XBox Live Marketplace people) or maybe have a TV episode available online and for download at TV resolution for free at the same time it is aired on TV with no DRM, time limits or rental price, then maybe piracy of these things would go down. Most of the money would probably be spent on negotiations and meetings with the providers of the media and getting them to agree to it, but at least it would be well spent.

If you think about it one of the reasons piracy is there is because people want something they can not obtain normally. Suppliers should be looking to this to learn not just trying to prevent it. Ask yourselves why is my stuff being pirated to start with?

Think about the music industry, they tried for years to can illegal MP3 file sharing. It took them that long to realise people wanted to download music and for music stores to open up. Now music downloads are often outselling shop sales!

So Phorm, I mean, CView... well whilst they're calculating their profit margins more and more servers will switch to encryption (which nowadays isn't gonna kill the kit it's running on much more than none encrypted) and people will start running their entire web experience through an encrypted channel. That'll be a big middle finger to the ISP's.

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Encryption? I think not.

Encryption will not be a problem at all in itself. Onion routing (Freenet, TOR, GNUNet, ...) will prove more difficult to break. How do you decrypt something for which you don't know where the key (or indeed the intended recipient) is?

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Anonymous Coward

@ Red Bren

'If I'm away from home, I may want to legally stream content from my PS3 to my PSP, or from my media server to a laptop. How can they tell the difference between legal and illegal sharing of copyright material?'

Easy, there's no fair-use clause in British copyright law that permits streaming. You're infringing copyright plain and simple.

This country sucks doesn't it?

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Actually

The error in their measure may not matter - they are doing a repeated measures study. Take observations from n ISPs, apply the treatment, then take another set of observations. Paired t-test.

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In progress - sewing the emperor's nu clothes

Lord Mandy evidently would like to deep packet inspect you - he's a natural successor to the Stasi. Detica is all to happy to do the dirty work - it has the technology. The corporate-fascist mind-set means that the Mandys of politics and the Deticas of big business just can't keep their hands off each other - here they are circling the bed in the motel room in anticipation. Things have really come to something when we get to see such foreplay performed in public for all to see.

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Anonymous Coward

Games

This could negatively impact the games companies too - I can think of three big games - WoW, Eve Online and Champions Online (I'm sure there are more) that distribute all of their client software and patches via Bittorrent (which is already a total pain in the ass given the way BT throttle torrent traffic after 4pm every day)

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Big Brother

@"Can anyone tell me how this differs in any way from Phorm in terms of a legal standpoint?"

Considering NuLabour choose what is to be considered law, then any concept of "legal" is actually meaningless. They keep showing time and time again, that "legal" is what they choose to be legal.

Morally Phorm are a ruthless bunch of arrogant greedy Narcissists (but then so is NuLabour and every other power hungry gang of MPs that group together to give themselves a consolidated power base and so gang name we can vote for).

Legality changes relative to power. If you have no power, then the law is an uncrossable line that can crush you in an instant and so you have to follow it to the absolute letter. Whereas if you have some money and power then the law is a lot more flexible (depending upon how much power you have). If however you have a lot of power, then you can not only avoid a lot of laws, you can even help to define the law so that others must follow your wishes. Ultimately its all about power.

Therefore if the people in power want Phorm style spying on MP3's etc.., they will introduce it no matter what all us *powerless* people say. Also they won't even care if its actually an MP3. They will just punish because it matches a filename list etc.. so hit a few filenames they will most likely ignore you, but hit enough filenames and they will punish you regardless of if they are really media files. Simple. (Of course it'll be gamed around by technical people but then political power is about herding the vast majority of people, so a politically irritating technical minority are not such an issue ... at the moment).

(I highlighted *powerless*, because that is what the people in power want us all to believe. If however everyone in the country decided that say tomorrow we will no longer stand for NuLabour, then in theory they would be out their jobs within the hour ... but then that would never happen in reality. First they would seek to divide the opponents against them to retain some followers to help prop up their power base. Plus secondly, because Politicians have spent centuries defining and redefining the laws (yet again, writing their laws) to keep them in their position of power (and consolidate their power) and so it allows them to call upon whatever level of violence they wish and need, to protect themselves from the people they are suppose to represent. (So much for them really represent us, when the law is now so twisted by their desire to stay in power).

Morally any group of humans need common rules with which everyone in the group can then live by, to prevent unfairness. However thats not what the current legal system achieves and its more distorted the more power they have. Of course it depends upon which law they break or more to the point, which law they are caught breaking. (The different between someone in power breaking a law and being caught breaking a law, is that in the case of being publicly caught, the people no longer back the law breaker in power, so they loose their power). Also if you don't have power then others with power can watch over you far more, so its much easier to catch powerless people breaking laws. Therefore the law isn't really equal for all, even though thats how its sold to us.

People in power want power and spying like Phorm gives yet more power. Its a bit like the old saying, “if you think like a Hammer every problem looks like a nail”. In the case of thinking like a politician, the solution to every problem is forcing more control over it. People take MP3's, ok force them not to take MP3's. On that basis they could easily justify Phorm style spying to bring it into law. (Plus how long before they all try to feature creep it in across Europe).

However its a bit pointless and myopic to keep arguing "they won't stop encryption, so it will fail argument", because thats missing the point. They will keep forcing ever more legal control until they get what they want and also the people in power don't even care much about encryption unless if becames widespread. Political power is about herding large numbers of people. Therefore a minority of technical people using encryption are just an annoyance they will just make a note of to watch over to make sure they don't make it easier for everyone to use encryption, because then the people in political power will move against encryption in whatever way they can. At first by researching technical ways to undermine it and when that fails they will force legal changes to undermine it. Which is exactly what we are getting with P2P in general. Of course every change they make will eventually fail and also it will create a pressure for change away from their control, but that will just be giving them ever more political fuel for them to use as an excuse to force towards ever more intrusive ways to spy over us all. (Its interesting how they hate P2P so much, partly I guess because its not centrally controlled and the control freaks away think in terms of how to grab central control).

It sickens me that the media industry can be used as a means to bring in such draconian spying over us all. The media industry simply isn't that important in society, to justify such Fascist Police State tactics to prop up its failing business model!. But because they have rich powerful friends then that is exactly what is being forced on us all and we have very little power to resist their demands over us. Therefore so much for Democracy because the vast majority of the country doesn't want all this spying, but the minority in power do want to spy, so they are forcing it all into law and in doing so, proving they don't represent us (regardless of what the two faced liers say) and so they are showing they actually represent their own wishes and their rich friends wishes and even work against us all so they don't represent us.

So much for freedom, liberty, privacy and democracy. What frightens me is give all the control freaks in power yet another decade to keep exploiting ever more technology, whilst keep on arrogantly ignoring all of us as usual, then try to imagine what it would be like to live in our happy Land of Hope and Glory, ... So much for "Thine equal laws, by Freedom gained, Have ruled thee well and long. By Freedom gained, by Truth maintained" etc.. :(

Goodbye England, Yes sir, Fascist Police State. :(

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Grenade

I for one welcome a copyright war!

It will be glorious!

This is one the producers cannot win. Whatever technical restrictions are put in place can and will be defeated. Sorry, but you're pissing into the wind and you're gonna get owned.

If file sharing is killing the entertainment industry then I say that's a good thing. In fact it should be encouraged! Hit the coke-addled shits where it hurts. For too long they've taken the piss, churning out talentless wastes of space like a fucking sausage machine.

I foresee a golden future where the only people making music and movies are those who deserve to! :D

Bring it on!

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spying on your traffic

cant see this working at all the fact that britian is the slowest country to catch up japan is way ahead of the uk in terms of technology the uk lacks in everything. and for a fact this is illegal spying on you and what you download does that mean if i download a update from microsoft il get busted for it haha what a joke. this country is a disgrase if they do slow speed down and spy on your connection people can do the decent thing and cancel there broadband all together simple as that i would if they were spying on me and my connection.

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The end result

Even if implemented in the most aggressive, Stalinist manner, when everything is said and done, the music companies will not see any increase whatsoever in their sales. In fact, they may see a *decrease* because the free advertising they get via torrents will have come to an end.

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Big Brother

@ AC 14:26

They probably wouldn't ban encryption, it is possible that they might just divert encrypted packets coming from non-business IPs to \dev\null so encrypted stuff simply won't go anywhere.

That would solve the problem of trying to decrypt anything.

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FAIL

@AC 1756

Actually, that'll not happen. The Masses are, unfortunately, able to get hold of music no problem using iTunes and their iPod. They listen to their music on their iPod and rather than copying it to the in-car media PC they don't have they just plug in their iPod. Same with transferring music- they just plug their iPod into their Windows PC or Mac and away they go.

The likes of you and I who find this offensive or inconvenient have no power as we also lack the will of the masses. Encryption and Onion Routing are our only defences and you can bet they'll find ways through them.

Much as we Reg Readers seem to think we're normal people and everyone else will hate Labour for the same reasons we do, they don't. Eastenders comes on, their kettle still boils and the lights are still on. They can still email auntie enid and mum can feel cool by listening to Rick Astley on her iPod (hey, the kids didn't stop listening to him last year!).

That's why the main protests are over (1) things like petrol prices where there's a widely-accepted problem (and why these protests die quickly once people just get used to the increased price) and (2) things like anti-racism measures which allow the government to be seen to be doing the will of "the people" while increasing their stranglehold over this country.

The only protests that work are ones with power behind them. If you'd like proof, see how people respond to lowered speed limit laws when they come along. You'll not get the support of anyone who lives in London as they don't leave the city by car. The majority of urban-dwellers won't care as again they barely ever leave the city by car. The rural dwellers won't care too much as after an initial flurry no-one will bother monitoring remote roads' traffic unless there are lots of accidents. Which would happen at 60 anyway.

The only outcry will be by people who enjoy driving or have to drive a lot for work. And we'll be shouted down by the eco-nuts who'll be shouted down by actual scientists who'll be ignored by the government. So there's no real mass movement against it.

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FAIL

*Sigh*

Once again, a scheme dreamt up by a bunch of suits who have no idea how the Internet actually works. Once again, a greedy corporation gets involved, thinking that they can make serious bank by telling the suits what they want to hear.

Already, artists themselves are splitting into two groups:

1. Those whom are against filesharing. Less creative, not in the business for the sake of art. It's all about the money. Throw-away pop bollocks of little artistic value to consumers.

2. Those whom are for filesharing. More creative, more experimental, more groundbreaking. They do it for the love of making music.

In all honesty, I'd like to see group one above eradicated. Filesharing is the best way to accomplish this. I have no pity for the artists that are now struggling to find the means to fund their coke habit.

The government should just tell the industry fat-cats to piss off and solve their own problems, so they can concentrate on getting us out of the recession that they've put us in. Maybe they could try putting the money they're wasting on this silly project into schools instead, then fund some art, film and music projects.

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Flame

Let's help those industries beat up their own customers

"...new laws designed to protect the music, film and software industries."

Um, and why do they need protecting? They've proven quite able to beat up customers and cheat artists on their own.

Or are we protecting them from their own reactionary stupidity? I'm not sure I need my tax dollars being spent on that. "Adapt or die" is for everybody, not just the dinosaurs.

(Though in this case it's not my own tax dollars that would be spent, seeing as how I live in the U.S. of A. Consider it a metaphorical statement.)

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Grenade

PI NOT IP ADDRESS?

All these behaviour advertising companies claim IP addressesare not personal information and that you cannot be identified.

Yet, the anti file-sharer 'police' will identify those 'breaking' so called laws via IP addresses they snoop on! They cannot have it both ways. Is IP addresses PI or not?

Answer - of course it is!

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FAIL

What a load of rotten Carp

Most decent P2P now supports strong encryption, and those that don't can use VPN proxies, so this will only catch the ignorant and the poor.

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Badgers

@RegisterFail 10:13

You must be leaving in cocoon and have not any experience with the Police lately.

In dubio pro reo might be on a piece of paper but long gone from British society. Once they decided you are a nuisance you are a goner. You have a big fight to prove your innocence as the burden of proof has been shift to the accused and not the accuser

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Proof of Concept

Encryption is not the issue. Here's a simple proof of concept that you can identify the content shared by individuals.

Say you want to download the latest Star Trek movie using bit torrent. You search for the torrent, put the details into your bit torrent client and it downloads the content (encrypted or not) from various IP addresses belonging to people across the UK and elsewhere. Eventually you have the file on your machine.

Obviously, the P2P system contains all the information you need to go from identified content.

The only extra steps a surveillance system has to do is verify that the downloaded file is indeed copyright, then repeat the P2P query process to obtain IP addresses.

This isn't necessarily the only way to do this, but it proves it is possible even when the streams are encrypted. Encryption is good, but it isn't magic. TOR on the other hand...

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WTF?

@ Outdated/Archaic/Failing Business Model

This is so hackneyed.

It is not an outdated/archaic/failing business model...you're just thieving arseholes!

You are to blame for this legislation. You will be to blame for more of this legislation. If you had stopped stealing, we wouldn't be here.

So many shades of pink and red on the comments here today...is there a general strike on?

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Flame

TOR isn't a panacea

remember that TOR was set up by the spooks so **they** could do anonymous snooping, their traffik being diluted by our traffic. many national SA's own/run TOR routers and thoroughly DPI the exit data back onto the interweb! Papers have been published about identifying an onion-ringed source by bandwidth modulating parts **of the entire internet** then watching how "the ripples" spread and deducing lotsof info about the source. Accidentally BT downloading copyright material that you were sure was copylefted instead is looking in need of some new technology!

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