To the vast majority of technology enthusiasts the term ‘BitTorrent’ means one thing – the sharing of large files with like-minded individuals quickly and freely across the Internet.
Often confused with the file-sharing protocol of the same name, the organization providing the tools for much of that sharing is technology company BitTorrent Inc. Indeed, BitTorrent Inc. currently employs the brains behind uTorrent, the most famous P2P file-sharing software in the world.
While public torrents are without doubt the major bread-winner for BitTorrent Inc, for the past two years the company has attempted to realign itself as a privacy-focused enterprise. In 2013 it even went as far as launching a billboard campaign to alert the public over the prying eyes of the National Security Agency.
This week during a series of conferences to promote development of companies in Latin America, BitTorrent Inc. CEO Eric Klinker reinforced his privacy agenda with a powerful message. According to Klinker, the privacy of the individual trumps even the security interests of nation states.
“I believe that the privacy of human beings is more important than the security of each country, but obviously governments tend to think differently and we respect the work they do,” Klinker said.
While noble, it’s a conflicting stance for the company to take. Its key products operate without any privacy protection whatsoever and the company has even rejected privacy services seeking to partner with the business.
Still, Klinker insists that his company’s support of privacy dates way back.
“For many years BitTorrent has been on the side of privacy,” he told the conference. “We have always believed that the Internet should be free and private, and that users should not have any fear of using it.”
Despite the wide open nature of torrent activity in general, it would be unfair to suggest that BitTorrent Inc. hasn’t been making privacy advances in other areas. Its chat application Bleep, for example, which allows people to communicate without relaying messages through an intermediary.
“Most of the applications that we use today, like WhatsApp, send messages to an external server, this means that third parties can review the content and know with whom they’re talking,” Klinker explained.
“It’s not that the Internet or the cloud aren’t safe, but a record always remains of who is speaking and what is being said. Maybe the information is not always important, but we still shouldn’t be exposed.”
And of course, BitTorrent Inc. also has its own Dropbox competitor, Sync. The tool has an enthusiastic following and just like Bleep, Sync allows people to communicate across devices without a middle man.
“Communication that is distributed through this software is more difficult to recover. Anyone who wants to spy on it would have it to do in a very specific way”, Klinker said.
In closing, BitTorrent Inc’s CEO said that the ultimate goal of his company is to help improve the Internet by making it possible for people to use technology without fear.
It’s of interest, then, that the most-requested feature for future versions of uTorrent is the inclusion of privacy and encryption tools. To date every one of those requests has been ignored.