AT&T’s Patent Allows Faster Torrents – for Less Privacy

Feb 17th, 2015 AT&T’s ‘fast lane’ claim was publicized as a way combat network congestion associated with file-sharing but increased attention on piracy threatens user privacy. You can get, “System and Method to Guide Active Participation in Peer-to-Peer Systems with Passive Monitoring Environment”, through TorrentFreak, describes a system of monitoring peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent that appears to be largely automated. AT&T insists surveillance isn’t the point, that files have to be efficiently identify the nature of shared files, including which torrents are most popular. AT&T would then be able to cache most in-demand files on AT&T servers, giving users a more local server to access.

“It is estimated that P2P file sharing, such as BitTorrent, represents greater than 20 percent of all broadband traffic on the internet,” AT&T’s new patent filing declares.

It might not immediately be obvious where the threat to privacy manifests in this proposal. In simplest terms, the decision process deciding which files would be appropriate for this kind of cache system requires a real-time monitoring of user activities. Users who regularly download illegal files or who simply don’t want their online activity being logged for possible exploitation are going to find this proposal to be invasive. There isn’t a way to sugar coat the privacy issue; that didn’t stop AT&T from trying.

The trends in political issues surrounding the web imply a change to protocol this complicated to explain is likely to go largely unopposed and even unnoticed. This measure seems to be geared towards managing any massive exchange of information, which would cover a lot of companies who use torrents the way they are supposed to be used, without violating copyright or privacy issues. So, this new AT&T patent would be speeding up these publicly held corporate, legal uses for torrents that will definitely speed up the internet for all users involved, including private end-users.

So, basically, this is just like any corporate overstep of internet rights, it’s not going to be a problem until it isn’t, and no one is going to do anything about it until it’s too late. LOL

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Jonathan Howard
Jonathan is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY