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Can your ISP see what you're downloading


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#1 Swordfleece

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 07:57 PM

A question that's always bothered me My Dad's been asking the same So... Can your ISP see and know exactly what MP3/AVI/DVD-VOB files or whatever you are downloading including movie titles, mp3 titles etc etc I use Utorrent and my ISP is Pipex. It'd be great if anyone can provide any help in answering this. Thanks

#2 Joe C

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 08:05 PM

yes, they can and do

#3 badbinary

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 09:15 PM

they control every single bit that transmits over their network and passively monitor the content.

"Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government"


#4 TomGL2

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 01:05 AM

Although data sources and the data itself can be monitored, it is not practicable for your ISP to do so on a wholesale basic due to the sheer amount of data that is transferred by all their clients. Connections of specific users can be monitored easily, but it is generally illegal to redirect data for recording. Even when data is inadvertently intercepted, it cannot lawfully be disclosed or used in any way. Court-authorized surveillance is a different matter, of course.

#5 TomGL2

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 01:10 AM

For definitive information, search for "Electronic Communications Privacy Act". Most states have enacted supplementary law to expand, or address weaknesses in, the ECPA.

#6 Bruce

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 05:53 AM

The ECPA does not in anyway have anything to do with what an ISP monitors on it's own network. It is their network, unlike a government agaency they do not need a warrant to monitor traffic. They do not need a warrant anymore than I do to monitor my home network and the traffic within it. All that said, it is a shame that people use such great software as torrents to steal content from owners. Have to run now, my neighbor has a new pressure washer, I don't want to buy one so I am going to steal his. ;)

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#7 Swordfleece

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 11:36 AM

Interesting thanks for all the comments guys So if I'm downloading a DVD of VOB files they could actually tell what movie it is. I would've thought they can only tell what file type Same with MP3. But of course people have been taken to court in the US for downloading so I guess they must tell somehow.

#8 TomGL2

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 03:07 AM

Bruce. while an ISP may monitor a client's connections (to filter traffic, for example) , it is illegal to record a client's data under state and federal wiretap laws (this is also the case whenever a person or persons has a "reasonable expectation of privacy", and is not restricted to communications). An ISP, like any group or individual, can be liable to civil and criminal prosecution for breaches.

The ECPA actually forbids the ISP's disclosure of some information — the contents of emails, for example — without a warrant or something else more authoritative than a subpoena. Although a DMCA subpoena carries more weight, it cannot compell an ISP to disclose information, as the ISP merely provides connections and doesn't host any possibly infringing material.

A conscientious ISP records as little data as possible, stores it for minimal time, and clearly describes the nature of the data collected in a published privacy policy. There is no excuse for capturing search terms or other arguments in a URL, for example, or for retaining the data for more than a week or two. If the policy indicates an unreasonable variety of collected data, or no policy is in place, you should probably look for another ISP.

As you'd except, though, police and government agencies have certainly encouraged or coerced ISPs (and other communications providers) to perform illegal data captures and disclosures, and I see no reason to think the practise will stop any time soon.

#9 Bruce

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 06:29 AM

Again, you confuse the ways a government entity is limited with the unlimited control an ISP has over it's own network.

You say yourself that the ISP can not "disclose information".

That of course implies that they do indeed have the information.

No excuse for capturing search terms? :rofl3:

How do you think advertising on the web works?

How do you think websites know where you have been, where you are going, and what you are looking for?

How do you think those targeted ads end up on your computers screen, you smartphone, and on and on.

There is more capturing of data than can be imagined.

You agree to all of it when you signed your contract with your ISP, cellphone provider.

This forum, the main site, the servers they run on all collect such data.

Your ISP can indeed monitor traffic originating from your IP address. That is in fact how Comcast was able to throttle downloads of certain users, but not others, it is also how UK ISPs do the same, and many others.

It is all about knowing what you are doing, when, and how.

Your emails, text messages, and useage historry all stored away on a server out there just waitinbg for the right company to pay for the information, for a government agency to subpena that information................

The statement "conscientious ISP" is an oxymoron, they do not exist.

Even worse conscientious users are few and far between, and their theft of others property over the internet is destroying the very thing they seem to want .........."openness"

Edited by Bruce, 24 December 2011 - 06:31 AM.

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#10 TomGL2

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 10:17 AM

unlimited control an ISP has over it's own network


"Unlimited control" does not confer "unrestricted actions". That you have absolute control over an object, a firearm for example, does not imply that you may use it in any arbitrary manner.

For example, an employer may own outright the company's telephone system. It is nonetheless illegal for the employer to record phone conversations between employees, or an employee and a third party, without their knowledge. Who owns the equipment is irrelevant.

the ISP can not "disclose information". That of course implies that they do indeed have the information


Correct,. I gave stored email messages as an example of client data that the ISP possesses and may not disclose without a court order.

No excuse for capturing search terms? How do you think advertising on the web works?


Now, Bruce, you know better. Web sites aren't ISPs. You're just muddying the water.

There is more capturing of data than can be imagined. You agree to all of it when you signed your contract with your ISP, cellphone provider


That's not entirely the case. Some types of data may be collected, some legally may not, regardless of the terms of the contract, and "agreeing" to allow an illegal activity doesn't make it legal (unless the law specifically provides for the exception). For example, giving permission for a grow-op on your property doesn't make the grow-op legal — it makes you an accomplice.

Your ISP can indeed monitor traffic originating from your IP address. That is in fact how Comcast was able to throttle downloads of certain users, but not othera


Don't treat "monitor traffic" and "record data" as synonyms. Monitoring and recording data transfer rates, volumes, and endpoints is fine — recording the transferred data is not, and violates at least wiretap laws (which do not apply only to law enforcement).

#11 Joe C

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 10:18 AM

I recently went with Comcast about 5 weeks ago, the other day I went to their web site to pay my first bill, now I have never been to the Comcast web site before but when I clicked "create an account" they already knew who I was because my user name and password popped up. I had to call Comcast because I did not know the password they gave me. I asked how could I have an online account set up already, (without any previous cookies mind you) they only thing they told was that I could change my password and they would be happy to do that.

#12 TheDillsterr

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 02:37 AM

This got really political really fast so maybe I can help with some simplicity. I have comcast as well. As younger guys(and girls) we don't always have the money for stuff and what happens when you're looking to watch a movie that came out in the 90's that isn't sold anymore? Torrents can come in handy.

Regardless of peoples' moralities, your ISP CAN and does monitor what you download. I've had a couple emails sent to me about downloading some movies and threatening to suspend my service. To avoid this though, I recommend using Peerblock. I have friends who use it and basically, when you start it up, it blocks big brother from getting in your business.

#13 Bruce

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 05:08 AM

I don't have much money this year, and I wanted to buy more presents for my granddaughters. I couldn't afford it, but I didn't go out and steal others property because I didn't have the money for stuff. :shrug: As for applications like "peerblock" you make the mistake of assuming your ISP somehow needs to monitor your computer. They don't, in fact it really doesn't matter what is on your computer. They simply and very easily monitor the traffic to and from your modem. They know what Ip addresses you go to, transfer to and from and what kind of data that is. Applications like peerblock may work to keep third parties, and some websites from seeing that information, it doesn't stop your ISP from knowing what you are doing. ;)

Edited by Bruce, 26 December 2011 - 08:06 AM.

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#14 Y kawika

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 10:27 AM

As Bruce points out, these 3rd party applications have no impact on an ISP being able to monitor the traffic on it's network.
Theft is theft and even peerblock recognizes it:

From peerblock themselves: The only way to be "safe" with P2P downloading is to not share copyrighted content!

PeerBlock is good at what it does - keeping your computer from "talking" with ip addresses on your configured blocklists.

Everything else is up to those blocklists themselves.

And heck, even if the blocklists provided 100% coverage of "bad" ip-addresses, and if blocklists were 100% proven to work, there could still be some bugs in the PeerBlock software that may prevent it from working correctly on your machine; we offer no guarantees that it works, and disclaim any and all responsibility for the consequences of your own actions online.

If you're sharing copyrighted music/video files and get sued by the relevant organizations, it's not our fault.
If you're stuck in a country with an oppressive government and are trying to get out your plans regarding the upcoming revolution, and those in power break down your door and haul you away, it's not our fault.
If you're sharing some secret footage of Area 51 and the "Men in Black" come knocking on your door, it's not our fault!
If you choose to download copyrighted material from the Internet, be aware that you may be breaking the law.
[/

http://www.peerblock...#p2p_disclaimer

Roll the dice if you wish, but don't do the crime if you can't do the time. ;)

:) Y

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#15 badbinary

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 05:04 PM

I recently went with Comcast about 5 weeks ago, the other day I went to their web site to pay my first bill, now I have never been to the Comcast web site before but when I clicked "create an account" they already knew who I was because my user name and password popped up. I had to call Comcast because I did not know the password they gave me. I asked how could I have an online account set up already, (without any previous cookies mind you) they only thing they told was that I could change my password and they would be happy to do that.


that's simple. they provide your cable router the ip address, they know who you are simply from the header data in the packets. it's much like when someone you know calls and you answer with their name due to caller id. you sent them identification simply by connecting to their site.

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#16 Joe C

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 07:03 PM

yup... I know they used my ip addy to know who I was on their site, but I had an account that I was not aware of and a password that I did not make

#17 TheDillsterr

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 01:34 AM

Well it depends on your own sense of morality I guess. I don't really care about "stealing" from a multimillion dollar company. If your friend gives you a DVD do you reject it because you didn't pay for it? Either way, when it comes to peerblock, I guess you guys are right. You're the computer techs, not me.

#18 nigsy

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 04:47 AM

Well it depends on your own sense of morality I guess. I don't really care about "stealing" from a multimillion dollar company. If your friend gives you a DVD do you reject it because you didn't pay for it? Either way, when it comes to peerblock, I guess you guys are right. You're the computer techs, not me.

This is not about morality...this is theft.
You are not just stealing from a corporation, you are stealing from the artist, the writers, the guys that cleans the film studio floor. The way they get the loss back is to put prices up, which affects everyone.....they get behind SOPA which affects everyone, they reduce their overheads (let people go, close cinemas, close retail outlets), which affects..oh yeah everyone. To compare illegal file sharing to accepting a second hand DVD from your friend is a little ambiguous in that it is a one to one exchange, you friend does not have 100+ (legit, paid for) copies that he is giving out and the recipients then thinking, I think I'll share this....they buy 100 copies each and give them away...and so on.

Would you go into Walmart and steal an original DVD after all you " Don't really care about stealing from multimillion dollar companies"??

Your actions are killing the freedom of the internet.

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#19 Bruce

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 09:01 AM

Well it depends on your own sense of morality I guess. I don't really care about "stealing" from a multimillion dollar company. If your friend gives you a DVD do you reject it because you didn't pay for it? Either way, when it comes to peerblock, I guess you guys are right. You're the computer techs, not me.


So you steal from all the stores at the Mall?

You steal from the supermarket?

Yoou steal from the convienece stores?

You steal from the gas station?

You steal from the bank?

Basically you are saying it is OK to steal so long as the ones you are stealing from have money?

If a friend of mine "gives me" a DVD or anything else it is given to me, that is a legal transfer of the item, I didn't "steal it".

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Microsoft blew its right foot off with Windows 8.
They went to the doctor to get it reattached with Windows 8.1 only to wake up to find out that a second left foot was attached in place.


#20 TheDillsterr

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 04:41 PM

It's the same deal. You could say it's just "my friends giving me things over the internet" regardless, right and wrong are non-existent. What's wrong here, is right somewhere else and vice versa. My dad's religion says it's wrong for women to wear shorts/pants and backs it up biblicaclly. Are you going to tell your wife to stop wearing shorts and pants now because someone told you it was wrong?




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