Skip to main content

The secret war - H/ISP vs. P2P/C

That's not a sequel to H.G. Wells Wars of the world, although it bears some similitude. Two days ago, Adam Livingstone, Producer at BBC Newsnight and Ubergeek - that's his words - had to issue a pseudo-apology (opens in new tab) and retract on his comments about BitTorrent and file sharing being considered as theft - when in fact they're not per se. We've discussed before how copyright is something that is subjective, depending on the whims of the rights holders (see RIAA gives fair use the boot).

At the end of his article, he mentions a conspiracy theory that will probably turn to reality sooner than later. The underground war that Hollywood and the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) will be wagging against the P2P community. Hollywood and the music industry obviously because of the rights issues while ISPs are aware that P2P consumes more bandwidth than anything else on the internet.

More and more ISPs are placing fair usage policies in their terms and conditions contracts; those fair usage policies have either translated into traffic shapping - whereby torrent traffic is identified and zapped - or vigourous attempts (opens in new tab) to convince you that you should be reduce your consumption. All this to improve - rightly so, the overall Quality of Service for the overwhelming majority.

Adam also covered briefly the worrying fact that the general media generally associates BitTorrent and P2P with illegality and the darker side of human beings; even more so in this case as P2P was starting to go even more secret with on-the-fly encryption thanks to Bit Comet et al. Now that's a classical example of FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) and it is a sad thing that a respectable institution like the BBC was the unfortunate carrier. Like some comments pointed out - leave this to Tabloids, they have to sell something, the BBC doesn't.

As for the pedophiles and terrorists, my very long experience as a netizen showed to me that those kind of people would probably not like to share their information with the world, encrypted or not - which is what P2P is all about. Instead, if I were a law enforcer, I would **hint** go to places like myspace or yahoogroups where restricted areas with limited access can be established.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.