Government Owned ISP Runs a Public Torrent Tracker

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With the most-used torrent tracker about to fold, the BitTorrent ecosystem is in need of a stable and reliable alternative. Unfortunately, good trackers are hard to find. However, there's a glimmer of hope as we just spotted one that's operated by the largest Kazakh ISP, which in turn is owned by the local government.

kazThe Internet is littered with torrent indexes and search engines, all offering a wide range of content to their visitors.

For this content to travel from A to B the BitTorrent ecosystem needs reliable trackers. Sadly, good public torrent trackers are a rarity these days.

Earlier this year OpenBitTorrent and PublicBT disappeared for months without a good explanation (they work again now), and Demonii will soon shut down.

So who will fill this gap? Running a large standalone tracker doesn’t come cheap, but this week we spotted a worthy contender.

To our surprise, the largest telecoms company in Kazakhstan is running a fully functioning tracker powered the well-known Opentracker software.

Kazakhtelecom, which has the local Government as a majority shareholder, can certainly afford to run it. The company has a yearly revenue of half a billion U.S. dollars.

kaztracker

At the time of writing the ISP already tracks 461,274 torrents, coordinating the transfers of more than 2.5 million people worldwide. The tracker can be used by anyone and supports both http and udp connections.

The retracker.telecom.kz:80/announce URL appears in torrents of all shapes and sizes and had been in use for at least a few months.

It’s not clear whether the ISP’s higher level management is aware of the tracker, or if it was configured by a torrent-friendly employee, but for now it works just fine.

The connection to the Kazakh Government may become a problem though, since peer-to-peer services and torrent trackers are not allowed under current law. Whether the Government will enforce that policy against itself has yet to be seen.

Update: OpenBitTorrent and PublicBT made a comeback after disappearing earlier this year. We updated the article to make this clear.

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