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IS TORRENTING ILLEGAL?

You might want to know this before starting to download anything from the torrents.

Files downloaded on a torrent. FILE PHOTO: STS/AMG

When it comes to torrents, one of the most common questions is the legality of the act. Torrent clients such as BitTorrent and uTorrent Vuze are used to download vast amounts of data online, and there’s no questioning the fact that much of it is illegal. In fact in some countries like the US, there are stringent laws in place that come hard on defaulters while in other countries like the Philippines where millions of persons use BitTorrent monthly, the laws are somewhat liberal.

Despite the liberal nature of the Philippine government to torrent usage, it’s important you put certain safety checks in place. Your torrent activity is visible to anyone in the torrent pool and obviously, this includes your internet service provider and the government. Whatever your upload or download from any of the torrent clients like BitTorrent or uTorrent can be traced back to you with your IP.

Therefore, it’s important you hide your torrent activity as even though using torrent isn’t illegal, downloading copyrighted content is. The implication is with the recent Philippines Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, you can be fined as much as PhP500,000 and risk jail time if found guilty of obtaining copyrighted content illegally. This makes it even more important to hide your torrent activity since much of the stuff we download using torrents is copyrighted and illegal to download or share.

HOW VPN’S HELP?

With a VPN, it means you can go about your torrent activity without fear of repercussions. A VPN is a software which connects you to the internet via an encrypted channel by masking your IP with that of a unique server. What this means is that when browsing, the IP visible to the website you’re browsing on with will be that of the unique server you are connected to and not yours. This, therefore, hides your identity and location, allowing you to browse anonymously. Also, VPNs will enable you to share information over the internet without having to fear what you are sharing can be accessed by a third party and they also allow you to access geo-restricted content. Most importantly, it hides your torrent activity.

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Although in some countries it is illegal to use a VPN, in the Philippines, it is not, and in fact, the Philippines Bill of Rights allows citizen’s privacy of communication. The Bill of Rights effectively gives you the legal right to hide all your online activities including your torrent activity. So not only is it legal to hide your online activity, it is also legal to use it to conceal your torrent activity.

IN CASE YOUR NETWORK PROVIDER BLOCKS ACCESS TO TORRENT SITES, HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO

Since 2015, Globe and PLDT, two of the largest internet service providers in the Philippines disabled access to popular torrent sites and this prevented Filipinos from accessing those sites. However, there are ways which are proven effective in going around this glitch, and it involves the use of a VPN as well.

A VPN helps unblock any site blocked by your internet service provider, and it does so by preventing your ISP from reading your traffic and from viewing your Domain Name System (DNS) requests. The VPN encrypts your traffic and routes all DNS requests through an anonymous server. Summarily if your ISP can’t see your web activity, it can’t block it.

HOW YOU CAN USE A VPN

Some persons might find the use of VPNs a bit alien but there’s no need to worry, they are actually quite easy to use and require no technical knowledge at all. There are VPN services for almost every operating system, and most are available on mobile which means you can set it up in only a couple of minutes.

For most, the process is like this:

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• Go to your VPN of choice and download

• Select from the packages available (some are free and others, paid)

• Install the client

• Open the server and select a server of your choice and start using it

That’s all it takes to use a VPN but before deciding on a VPN to use, there are some things you must have ascertained:

• Ensure the speed of your internet is not going to be affected majorly by the VPN or that some apps would not become inaccessible. VPNs reroute traffic and what this means is that it takes longer for you to reach your target when working with a VPN and with a good VPN you hardly notice this time lag.

• Find out how stable the server is. Some VPN servers tend to log you out occasionally from the server mainly due to overload leaving you exposed for however long before you notice. Therefore, it’s vital you confirm the stability of servers.

• Check out the privacy policy of the VPN to see what gets hidden and what’s shared. It’s better to choose a VPN that keeps as little personal information as possible.

In conclusion, torrents are not illegal in the Philippines (when done right) and we have provided a detailed method of going about your torrent activity the right way. However, we recommend you stick with downloading things that are not illegal in your country.

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Find out more about torrenting: https://vpnpro.com/torrenting/


**this is a contributed article courtesy of VPNPro

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