AFACT v iiNet: Day 5 – Anti-Piracy Tech is Secret

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Day five of the copyright infringement trial between anti-piracy group AFACT and Aussie ISP iiNet was marked by the cross examination of anti-piracy tracking firm DtecNet, partly in private. The company also made some very unusual claims about the habits of "ordinary" BitTorrent users, who apparently regularly filter who they connect to.

AFACTIt’s day five in the copyright infringement case of AFACT – representing several Hollywood studios – and Aussie ISP iiNet (earlier coverage of day one, day two, day three and day four).

Today’s evidence included that given by anti-piracy tracking company DtecNet’s CTO Kristian Lokkegaard. The day ended in a closed court session where the inner workings of the company were discussed – if ever there needed to be something discussed completely in the open, this is it, but it wasn’t to be.

Lokkegaard’s cross-examination centered around the question of DtecNet’s operations. When the company tracked BitTorrent users, did it behave in a normal way, as a regular BitTorrent user would?

iiNet lawyer Richard Lancaster put it to Lokkegaard that his company deliberately filtered their connections to other BitTorrent users to ensure that only iiNet customers were tracked. Lokkegaard agreed with this assertion but couldn’t confirm if his company had also filtered by country.

Lancaster put it to Lokkegaard that an ordinary BitTorrent user would not filter IP addresses, but Lokkegaard said this was untrue, saying that users can filter out IP addresses that they don’t want to connect to.

“Users do that to avoid connecting to companies like ourselves. They will typically try to stay away from something that looks like a corporation because a lot of people would potentially suspect them of being a non-private user,” he said.

While there are techniques and software available to enable BitTorrent users to filter connections to other users – for example using a blocklist in conjunction with software such as Peer Guardian – it’s a bit of a stretch to say that “ordinary” BitTorrent users would take such measures.

Indeed, it would be extremely empowering for BitTorrent users to know the IP addresses that DtecNet operate their tracking systems from – to know those would render their entire operation useless, if “ordinary” users took such measures. But they most definitely do not – most “ordinary” users take no measures at all.

When pressed, however, Lokkegaard conceded that it would be unusual for BitTorrent users to take measures in order to only connect to peers on the same ISP.

The same could not be said about AFACT investigator Aaron Herps. When he was cross-examined it was put to him that he had employed an IP address filter which enabled him to connect to only iiNet IP addresses.

“Is that something an ordinary user of uTorrent would use?” said iiNet barrister Richard Cobden.

“Many users do, yes,” responded Herps.

But of course, he didn’t answer the question. While it is completely possible to only connect to BitTorrent users on a particular ISP, “ordinary users” absolutely do not do this. It would be entirely reasonable and true to state that “ordinary users” have no idea this is even possible.

Lokkegaard’s cross-examination will continue tomorrow.

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