PIA Runs VPN Traffic Through VPN to Avoid BitTorrent Ban

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Several large datacenters are no longer allowing BitTorrent-heavy services on their networks. In response, VPN service provider Private Internet Access is routing traffic in a few countries through a separate VPN. While this may affect connection speeds, the provider prefers the option over an outright ban.

piaIt’s no secret that millions of people use VPN services to make sure that their BitTorrent download habits remain private.

This is a valid reason, but since many torrent users share copyrighted material, it also presents problems for VPN providers.

Increasingly, datacenters around the world are banning services with heavy BitTorrent traffic due to the vast amount of copyright infringement notices they trigger.

In response several VPN providers are now only allowing P2P traffic on specific servers. Private Internet Access (PIA) is also presented with this problem, but the solution they chose is different.

Instead of banning torrent traffic, PIA has decided to route it through BitTorrent-friendly regions instead.

“Certain regimes/regions and data centers have strict discriminatory policies towards the BitTorrent protocol. In order to provide a free and open internet to everyone, we were forced to create a technical fix,” the company informs TF.

The policy affects a few servers in Japan, Italy, Australia, Mexico, Singapore and Hong Kong. Subscribers who are connected to these servers may notice that their BitTorrent traffic is rerouted through another region.

PIA doesn’t mention any of the datacenters by name. However, a quick lookup shows that its Australian servers are hosted at SoftLayer Technologies, which strictly prohibits copyright infringement.

The “double VPN” solution doesn’t affect regular browsing but since it’s targeted at a range of ports, other applications including BitCoin, gaming and VoIP may also be affected at times.

PIA believes that routing the traffic is the best solution from a privacy point of view, as it doesn’t require DPI or other invasive techniques.

“Due to the fact that packets were routed in an unidentifiable manner and double hop is a known and accepted technology by privacy advocates, we believe this technical solution adheres to the strongest of privacy ideals.”

Not all users are happy with the change and the initial lack of communication on the issue. However, PIA notes that it has the best interests of its customers in mind.

Unless datacenters are forbidden from banning certain types of traffic, there are few other options than to bypass the block or shutdown the servers altogether.

“We want to make clear, that privacy is in fact our single policy. However, in order to help our users who are censored in certain regions, we needed to find a way to provide close servers while still being able to provide users with true and free/open internet access.

“This was our solution and we still think that using technology to create a solution is better than waiting for politicians to fix this problem,” PIA informs us.

PIA has published the full statement on its website. The company notes that it will try to help users who are experiencing additional latency in the affected regions.

Note: PIA is one of TorrentFreak’s sponsors but this article was written independently without any form of compensation.


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