If you use bittorrents, eDonkey,Gnutella, or any other P2P network, then you are likely being scanned by investigators. In an effort to trap and prosecute people for abusing copyrighted movies and music, investigators often pose as P2P downloaders. While they themselves share and download copyrighted files, these "posers" also scan and log your IP (internet protocol) address. Your computer IP address then becomes ammunition for civil lawsuits, where you may be sued for copyright infringement.
These investigator "posers" are everywhere. Their efforts will sometimes result in wholesale lawsuits, where hundreds of downloaders are charged thousands of dollars in copyright fines. Investigating posers comprise up to 3% of all P2P downloaders you may be sharing files with.
In this war over digital freedoms, there are a couple of options for concealing your identity from these prying eyes.
Concealment Option 1: You can install an anonymizing proxy network service, like Anonymizer.com, The Cloak, or A4. There is even a special anonymizer dedicated to P2P networking: Mute.
Concealment Option 2: You can install a masking software product, like PeerBlock IP filter. Using either a proxy or a masking solution, or both in conjunction, will help hide you from being tracked by investigators or anyone trying to observe your downloading habits. The concealment is not 100%, but it is as private as you can get as a public user of the Web.
How PeerBlock IP Filtering works:
- PeerBlock maintains a centralized database of all the common investigator entities: RIAA, MPAA, MediaForce, MediaDefender, BaySTP, Ranger, OverPeer, NetPD and others.
- PeerBlock monitors these investigators' IP addresses by using sophisticated tracking devices. The investigators' digital addresses are then compiled into a centralized 'blacklist' that is updated hourly. Please note that PeerBlock itself does not manage these blacklist files... those items are managed by third parties like iBlocklist.com.
- PeerBlock then gives away free 'filterin'" software to users. This software constantly checks the centralized blacklist, and then blocks your IP address from being seen by those investigator IP addresses.
- You install the free PeerBlock IP filter software on your computer, where it protects you by preventing connections with any identified machines on its blacklist. By forbidding blacklisted P2P connections, PeerBlock effectively deflects over 99% of the investigators away from your computer. For all intents and purposes, your computer is invisible to anyone on the PeerBlock blacklist.
Important note: PeerBlock is a filtering tool only, and is only as good as the thoroughness of its blacklists. It does not protect you against surveillance machines who are not on its blacklists.
Simultaneously, PeerBlock does not prevent virus or hacker intrusions. You still need to institute some kind of network firewall defense and some kind of virus protection in addition to PeerBlock.
PeerBlock software is compatible with all the major file sharing applications, such as Kazaa, iMesh, LimeWire, eMule, Grokster, DC++, Shareaza, Azureus, BitLord, ABC, and others.
As part of the grassroots push to maintain internet freedoms and anonymity, the PeerBlock software designers have armed downloaders with a very powerful defense here.
Where you can get PeerBlock Firewall Software for Windows 7:
- PeerBlock is manufactured by Peerblock, LLC
- Download PeerBlock's predecessor, Peer Guardian, here.
Important Technical and Legal Notes: no masking of your address is 100% foolproof. At the same time, remember that in any other country outside of Canada, downloading copyrighted movies and songs puts you at legal risk for copyright infringement prosecution. Hundreds of users in the USA and UK have been sued and fined by the MPAA and RIAA for downloading files in the last three years. Only in Canada is P2P downloading tolerated legally, and even that umbrella of Canadian tolerance is likely to vanish soon.
Furthermore, while the About Network does promote freedom of expression and the democratic use of the Internet, the About Network does not condone nor promote the illegal downloading of copyrighted files. If you are going to participate in P2P file sharing, please take the time to educate yourself about the legalities and consequences of such activity
Related: Understanding P2P and its Legalities
Related: What Happened to WinMX?