Court Documents Reveal That British ISPs Monitor IPTV Pirates

By Bill Toulas / October 19, 2020

Recently disclosed court documents in the UK clearly show that Sky was monitoring its subscribers’ internet whereabouts to figure out which of them accessed pirate IPTV platforms. The court received this “secret” traffic analysis in a recent domain blocking case, and from the ISP’s standpoint, the justification for its existence was to protect them from “infringement facilitation” accusations. This has been a legal implication for ISPs multiple times in the recent past, so the internet providers are now more willing to identify and block access to these sites proactively.

Still, user communication privacy is breached, and the freedom to use your internet connection as you wish without anyone knowing about it retracted. Active monitoring and straight-out censorship generally lead to people losing their trust in all ISPs and seeking new ways to protect their privacy.

Even those who do not visit pirate platforms would prefer to keep their internet activities private and not scrutinized. Because of this massive surveillance and regulation, we see a rise in VPN services, which don’t just unblock blocked websites, but they also hide the user behind a masking IP address and encrypt internet traffic data.

Of course, not all VPN providers are trustworthy, and some do let holes for the ISP to continue its user-tracking unobstructed. Still, there are many good and trust VPN vendors, and as long as the ISPs continue their logging approach, demand for VPNs will increase. The next step in this “cat and mouse” game is to ban VPNs altogether, something that would be quite hard in countries like the UK though.

Internet Service Providers could at least be more transparent with their clients, explaining exactly what data or metadata they collect, how long they keep them for, and in which cases they make this information available to others. Some of them mention traffic analysis in their terms, but in most cases, it is presented as “confidential,” which couldn’t be farther from the reality in practice.

As for the website blocking itself, this, too, is highly problematic the way it’s done in the UK. When blacklisting an IP address that is used by a certain pirate website, you are running the risk of blocking more sites that could be using that same IP address temporarily. Oftentimes, these websites have nothing to do with piracy and copyright infringement, so you end up having an aggressive censorship problem.

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