BitTorrent and Your Child

Most parents that have been keeping up with Internet issues over the past decade has heard of the phenomenon of peer to peer networking, or P2P. Peer to peer was originally conceived of as a way to circumvent a centralized downloading center, thereby making it harder to find and prosecute illegal downloaders. In a standard file download, a user will log onto a server that has the file stored, and download it. In this situation, the owner of the server is liable for distributing the material, and the user is liable for downloading it. Peer to peer eliminates the server by allowing users to connect and send files directly to each other. The lack of a server makes it very hard to trace where each file came from and where it went, especially when one person can distribute a file to hundreds of people, who then can do the same thing.

Recent technological advances have allowed government agencies to follow files with more accuracy. BitTorrent changes the whole game. Instead of users connecting to one other user to download the file they want, they connect to several different users, called seeders. Once a user requests a file, the seeder sends pieces of it, but never the whole thing, to several other computers. Those computers then relay the pieces of the file to whoever needs it. Since each user is only distributing pieces of the file and not the whole thing, it becomes nearly impossible to trace origins or destinations.

Because of the fractional nature of BitTorrent, users are able to download extremely large files. With traditional peer to peer networks, a user would pick certain songs from an album to download, but with BitTorrent, you can choose and download entire albums at a time or even libraries. It is not unheard of for a BitTorrent user to find and download and entire discography within a day using one search and one click. Whole movies, entire albums, adult material, and video games can be found as easily as looking for a book on your shelf.

This technology can be very scary for a parent who wishes that their child not be involved with illegal download activity. Arguments can be made for the legality and illegality of the process, but that doesn’t stop parents from worrying. You can keep your kids off BitTorrent sites fairly easily, as they are Internet based, after all. A simple parental control blocker program may be all that is needed, as users must search for the torrent files they want on the Internet. In order to use BitTorrent, you need to install a client on your computer, so if you really want to stop your kids from using it, you can simply set their computers up to not allow any new programs to be installed without your permission. With the RIAA, MPAA, FBI, and other governmental agencies from several countries worldwide involved in fighting illegal copyright infringement, everybody needs to be careful about what goes into the computers in their household.

Have a great day!

Lawrence