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How Anonymous Are Cloud Torrenting Services?

Every day, millions of people download files through BitTorrent. This works well but there is one major drawback; everything you download can be tracked.

To bypass this privacy concern many people have started to use VPNs, many of which provide good anonymity. Others prefer cloud torrenting tools, which also help to hide users’ IP-addresses.

Over the past few years we’ve regularly asked VPN providers how anonymous they really are. However, little is known about the privacy policies and logging practices of cloud torrenting services. Today, we hope to fill this gap.

At the start of the week we reached out to several of the leading cloud torrenting services to ask some detailed questions. In particular, we wanted to know what information they store and if that can expose users.

The list of all questions, including the answers from providers, is listed below. At the bottom of the article we provide a summary, as well as a list of those who failed to respond at all.


1. Does your service collect any temporary or permanent data that can link a timestamp and IP-address to a specific user on your service? If so, what information do you collect and how long is that stored?

2. Does your service store any personally identifiable information of users (including IP-addresses)? If so, what information do you store, and for how long?

3. Does your service store the names/hashes or other identifying information of downloaded content (stored on your servers) that can be connected with a specific user? If so, for how long?

4. Does your service store the names/hashes or other identifying information of previously downloaded content (after being removed from the user’s account) that can be connected with a specific user? If so, for how long?

5. How does your service respond to DMCA notices or similar takedown requests?

6. Do you have a repeat infringer policy? If so, what does it entail?

Premiumize

premiumize logo1. No, we don’t log any IP access data. Our whole service is built to have minimal logging and is very light on the database level. That keeps things simple.

2. The most unique userkey is the user’s email address. We keep that for obvious reasons – to secure the account and reach the user. We keep it until the account is deleted. Apart from that we don’t store anything, but other information might be stored by our payment gateways. Nothing really can be done there except moving to Bitcoin – which we support and love.

3. There are two parts to our service. One is for fetching (eg a transfer job for importing the files into cloud storage) and then there’s the actual cloud storage. There is obviously a database that links the files to the user’s account but that connection is gone once the user deletes(removes) the file from their cloud. We cannot restore files and cannot backtrack who added/transferred what.

4.No, we do not.

5. Luckily we don’t have this problem since our business model does not contain any sort of sharing or publishing. Generated filelinks are locked to the user’s account and cannot be accessed externally.

6. We do not and it would be pretty hard since we do not have the logs. For now, we are content with the current legal situation.

TorrentFreak summary: There are no logs that can connect a person’s IP-address to an account. Premiumize can link files to user accounts and information

Transfercloud

transfercloud logo1. The last IP address is registered when the user logs on and it is cleared when the user logs out. This IP is only used to permit access to their downloaded files, and it is correlated with the login cookie. This is temporary and the privacy of the user is assured when they logout. The email is used to register and as an account recovery mechanism.

2. Each account is associated with an email address. Even though we frown on ‘temporary’ or ‘disposable’ emails, we make no effort in collecting the real name. In fact, if the user logs in with a Facebook account and refuses to share their email address, we don’t store any address at all. Email is only used to ensure the ownership of the account and allow users to ‘recover’ their own account and not be available for anyone else.

At any point, users can change their email address or delete it. Also, at any point any user can ask for account deletion and all information will be purged on request. We are working on adding an automatic mechanism for this.

Now, if the user upgrades their account, our payment processor asks for PII to ensure the identity of the user to protect against credit card fraud. This information STAYS on their servers and is not available from ours. We don’t use that information at all, we just receive the activation for a specific account.

3. See the next answer.

4. On all active or previous transfers the original request is stored as long as the user leaves them on their ‘downloaded’ list. As soon as they clear this list, that information is purged and can no longer be connected with the user.

5. We respond as soon as the request is received. We delete the referred content and comply, informing the user why it was deleted and suggesting they do not try downloading any copyrighted content.

6. We have not had to enforce any “repeat infringer” policies, but we do not disclose the limits we would consider as abuse to avoid users trying to “pass below the radar”. To be clear, although we do have a “fair use” policy for bandwidth usage, we have not had to impose any limits, as we try to permit the users to use the service to their maximum potential, and instead, we are really happy to see users enjoy it that much.

TorrentFreak summary: There are temporary logs that can connect a person’s IP-address to an account. TransferCloud can link non-deleted files and download histories to user accounts and information

Put.io

1. Since we are a Turkish company we are required to abide by Turkish laws, which are more concerned about curtailing free speech than privacy. And since there is no speech at put.io we’re not keeping a list of [‘all’] used IP addresses.

We do keep the last used IP address to generate a download token that invalidates download links when requested from other IP addresses. We keep this last IP address as long as the user is logged in. It is erased when the user logs out or is inactive for 7 days. This is a precaution against abuse. We are currently working on a solution that will make it unnecessary to keep the last IP address.

2. We keep the username, reported email address and the last IP address for the purpose explained above. We have no access to users’ payment information. These are stored by our payment providers

3. There is an association with the account and the transfer jobs as long as they are displayed on the transfers page, and there is an association between the account and the files as long as they are stored under that account. There is also a history page that lists the latest transfer jobs, but it can be turned off.

These associations disappear the moment the transfers page is cleared, the files are deleted or the history page is cleared (or disabled). We wouldn’t be able to answer the question “What has this user downloaded?” after that.

Also, if the user ever destroys their account, we destroy everything related to the account. The only record we keep is a log entry that states that an account with that username was destroyed on that date. We had to add this to solve some mysteries with unintended account deletions.

4. No. If it’s not visible in the user interface we don’t keep it.

5. After 10 years in operation we have received only one DMCA request and that was meant for another service called Putlocker. The copyright holder had mixed up the services. We don’t receive DMCA requests, but if we ever did, we would comply and remove the content from our servers. That would be the end of it.

6. We have never had to develop a policy to deal with this.

TorrentFreak summary: There are temporary logs that can connect a person’s IP-address to an account. Put.io can link the non-deleted files and download history to user accounts and information.

Summary: How Anonymous Are Cloud Torrenting Services

Cloud torrenting services help people to hide their IP-addresses from the public. By doing so, they add an extra privacy layer. Outsiders can’t see what people download. However, true anonymity is a different matter.

The services can link stored files – and in some cases non-deleted download histories – to the personal information they store in their database. In that regard, they are similar to cloud hosting services. This is worth keeping in mind, as services can be compromised or legally required to share information.

Cloud Torrenting Services That Haven’t Responded (Yet)

The following services didn’t respond to our questions. If they do, we will update the article accordingly.

– Bitport
– Boxopus
– Cloudload
– Filestream
– Seedr
– Offcloud
– Torrentsafe
– Transfercloud
– Zbigz

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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Maxoak Bluetti AC100 Keeps You Powered Up, No Matter What

Our verdict of the Maxoak Bluetti AC100:
It doesn't have the power of its larger siblings, but the Maxoak Bluetti AC100 has more than enough to keep your most vital electronics running when you need them.
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The world is an unpredictable place, so you never know when you might need a solid source of portable power. You may have a power outage in your area or you could have a downed wire from a storm. Maybe you’re just going on a camping trip but can’t do without a specific modern convenience.

We’ve previously looked at portable power supplies from Maxoak’s Bluetti line and were impressed with what they had to offer. That said, not everyone needs a big ultra-powerful pseudo-generator. When you just need to power a few household electronics, the Maxoak Bluetti AC100 will get the job done, and it’s just light enough to make it luggable.

Join us as we take a closer look at the Maxoak Bluetti AC100, and scroll down for an exclusive coupon code!

Specifications

  • Inputs: AC adapter or solar panel (16V-40V 10A)
  • Outputs: 2x AC sockets, 4x 5V USB 2.1A ports, 1 x 45W PD USB-C, 1 x 12V 9A car port
  • Total capacity: 1000Wh
  • Maximum continuous power: 600W
  • Battery technology: Lithium-Ion
  • AC Charge time: 10 hours
  • Solar charge time: Variable (higher power panels mean shorter recharge times); panels not included
Maxoak Bluetti AC100 Maxoak Bluetti AC100 Buy Now On Amazon $899.99

Build & Design

DC ports on the AC100

The Maxoak Bluetti AC100 might be smaller than some others in the Bluetti line, but it isn’t exactly tiny, nor is it light. The size is slightly bigger than a car battery and weighs in at 34.4 pounds (15.6 kg).

While most of that weight comes from the internal lithium-ion battery, a significant portion of it comes from the build. This is a sturdy power source, with a handle for easy carrying. It feels like it could handle a drop from a few feet, but I wouldn’t want to find out the hard way.

The battery may be tough, but it does have its weak points. The biggest of these is that it isn’t waterproof. This isn’t a problem if you’re keeping the AC100 around for power outages, but it means you’ll need to be careful if you bring it on a camping trip.

Features

Built-in light on Bluetti AC100

Functionality is simple: just press the power button on the front, then tap the AC or DC buttons on the front to enable power to the ports. You can use both at the same time, but the individual switches make it easy to route power only to where you need it. You’ll be using both switches often, because aside from the two AC sockets on one side, every other port provides DC power.

One extra bit of functionality comes from the built-in light. Turn on the battery, then tap the light button and you’ve got an extremely heavy, largely unwieldy light source. That said, this may be handy when it comes to plugging devices into the Bluetti AC100 during a power outage.

The built-in display is easy to read, both inside and outside. As with the Maxoak Bluetti 1500Wh, the five-segment battery indicator doesn’t give you a good idea of how much power is left. That said, this is the only poor aspect of the display. Being able to see exactly how much power is discharging at any given time is useful.

Charging the Battery

Charging the Bluetti AC100

The Maxoak Bluetti AC100 arrived mostly charged, so I had quite a lot of work to do before I could charge it to see how long it took. Given the capacity of the battery, this took longer than I’d initially planned.

There are two ways to charge the Bluetti AC100, one of which is standard AC power from a wall outlet. An AC adapter is included in the box, which makes this easy.

As this is such a large battery, you’ll need a while to charge it — roughly 10 to 11 hours, in fact. In my case, charging took around nine hours, but this is because I didn’t entirely run out the battery before plugging it in to charge over the course of a day.

Input for charging the AC100

The other option for charging the Bluetti AC100, and largely one of the more novel reasons for opting for this power source over others, is using a solar panel. You can use plenty of solar panels, as long as it provides a working voltage of between 16V and 40V at a max of 10A. A DC to MC4 charging cable is included in the box.

I had hoped to have a solar panel on hand to test this feature, but that was not to be the case. If you’re interested in charging via solar panel, see our review of the Maxoak Bluetti 1500Wh Backup Solar Generator, which has a 50% larger capacity than Bluetti AC100.

Solar power is great, but not exactly known for being predictable, as so much is reliant on the weather. How fast the AC100 charges depends partly on your solar panel and partly on how the weather is while you’re charging.

Powering Up Your Home

Dual AC outlets

You can power anything with the AC100, as long as it doesn’t draw more than 600 watts. This means that it easily powers TVs, computers, coffee grinders, and more. Maxoak even advertises using the Bluetti AC100 to power a car fridge or mini-fridge.

That said, the AC100 won’t power every home appliance. Microwaves, toaster ovens, kettles, or even a slow cooker, typically all draw more than 600 watts.

Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about accidentally plugging in something with too big of a draw. The AC100 has built-in protection against overcharge, overcurrent, overvoltage, and overheating.

I wasn’t it to provide much fo a challenge, but for initial testing, I plugged a Marshall guitar amplifier from the mid-1980s into the Bluetti AC100, which draws around 50-watt. As expected the AC100 had no problem powering the amp, but there was a strange noise in the background. I’m going to blame this on the amp being a solid-state amp that is around 35 years old rather than the Bluetti.

Just to make sure that the AC100 didn’t have any significant issues with noise, I next decided to power my home audio setup. This includes an Audio-Technica turntable, a hybrid tube integrated amplifier, cassette deck, and input switcher. The Bluetti AC100 easily powered everything, and I noticed no noise. Everything sounded exactly as it was plugged into the wall outlet.

How Long Does the Battery Last?

Reporting the current power load

Unlike laptop power banks, which Maxoak also makes, it can be hard to predict how long the battery will last unless you know how much power you’re drawing. Fortunately, the readouts on the built-in display make this part easy.

Once you know how much power you’re drawing, you can figure out how long the battery will last. This model has 1,000 Wh (watt-hours) of capacity, which simply means that drawing 1 watt continuously would get you roughly 1,000 hours of power. If you’re drawing a total of around 100 watts at a given time, you can expect roughly 10 hours.

This formula works, but you won’t always be working with neat units of 10 or 100. Still, the Maxoak Bluetti AC100 performed as expected, delivering power for roughly as long as I expected. It’s important to note that power usage will fluctuate in most cases, so you’ll want to keep your eye on usage for a while. If you want to be safe, just base your estimate on the highest number you see.

I tested the Bluetti AC100 with my home theater setup that included an LCD TV, 5.1-channel receiver, powered subwoofer, and Ultra HD Blu-ray player. All of this only displayed a load of around 100 watts, even during playback, so I could have expected around 10 hours of playtime. I didn’t feel like watching TV for 10 hours, but after finishing a roughly 2.5 hour movie, the AC100 had drained at the rate I had expected.

Should You Buy the Maxoak Bluetti AC100?

The Maxoak Bluetti AC100 is a great example of a product that clearly describes what it aims to do and then does just that. While it’s not as powerful as other products in the Bluetti line, it’s still powerful enough to keep a fair amount of electronics running. The occasional slightly gimmicky feature like the built-in light don’t do anything to take away from that.

The more important thing to consider when looking at the Bluetti AC100 is whether it does what you need. It’s handy how powerful this power bank is, but that doesn’t mean much if you’re aiming to power your toaster and this won’t handle it. While the AC100 will handle most things you throw at it, its portability does come with a slight tradeoff of sheer power.

Maxoak Bluetti AC100 Maxoak Bluetti AC100 Buy Now On Amazon $899.99

If you need just slightly more than what the Bluetti AC100 can provide, you might be interested in one of the more powerful models in the Bluetti line. On the other hand, if you’re looking to power your entire home or even a portion of it, no product like this will meet your demands. Instead, you’re probably in the market for a diesel-powered generator or Tesla Powerwall.

This level power and portability doesn’t come cheap, but you aren’t necessarily stuck paying the Bluetti’s $900 MSRP. Using the coupon code bluetti108, you can get a further $108 off the purchase price (and there’s an Amazon coupon for $50 on the sales page this can be combined with), which may be a large enough difference in price to make this a worthwhile investment.

Enter the Competition!

Maxoak Bluetti AC100 Battery Backup

Read the full article: Maxoak Bluetti AC100 Keeps You Powered Up, No Matter What

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ACE/MPA Seize Four More Sites For Facilitating Movie & TV Show Piracy

Domain takeovers and seizures have been part of the piracy landscape for at least 15 years.

Previously implemented mostly by government agencies, including the Department of Justice and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of criminal investigations, seizure banners are used as messages to deter former and would-be pirates.

Given the finite resources of law enforcement agencies and their tendency to focus on high-profile targets, domain seizures/takeovers are now much more likely to be actioned privately. This usually involves an approach to a site owner by entertainment industry lawyers, who politely request that all infringing activity ceases and domains are handed over to avoid more punishing action.

The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) is now emerging as the leader in this type of enforcement tactic. Comprised of the world’s leading video-focused entertainment companies, ACE has shut down dozens of platforms in this manner. However, instead of shouting its achievements from the rooftops, ACE prefers to conduct most of this activity behind the scenes.

Four More Domains Officially ‘Seized’ by ACE/MPA This Month

1. Rokuenmexico.com

Until recently, visitors to ‘Roku in Mexico’ were greeted with an offer to buy what appears to have been an unlicensed IPTV product called Future TV.

“Premium TV at the best price. Forget about SKY and Netflix,” the site declared. “The largest catalog of films including some that are still in the cinema. Access the latest movies from your home.”

Priced at 230 pesos (around $10) per month, the service claimed to be compatible with Android, iOS, Windows and Mac devices, playable on up to three at any one time. The service could be ‘activated’ via WhatsApp with payments accepted via PayPal and other means.

Curiously, however, the underlying Future TV portal seems to have been unaffected by the MPA’s seizure of the Rokuenmexico.com domain. That remains available today, as the image below shows.

Future TV

2. Android-Latino.com

The MPA’s takeover of Android-Latino.com is more difficult to decipher. The minimal volume of cached pages available on the Wayback Machine suggest that the site published news and reviews of pirate IPTV services and apps. It may have also published links to URLs where people could watch IPTV channels for free.

In any event, the original page (which wasn’t professionally presented) is long gone and now diverts to the ACE anti-piracy portal.

3. TVnota10.net

In common with the above seizure, the takeover of TVnota10.net isn’t immediately straightforward either. While the main site is down and redirecting to ACE citing breaches of copyright law, it appears to have functioned as a sales/promotional platform for a similarly-named service, TVN10.com.

That site appears to be completely functional, offering access to an almost certainly unlicensed IPTV service offering everything from live TV channels and movies, to TV shows and international sports.

4. Crowdstream.ml

To complete this weird quartet of domain takeovers we have Crowdstream.ml. Not only had we never heard of this platform before, it seems that the major companies of ACE may have only heard of it recently too. Google’s Transparency Report reveals that Twentieth Century Fox and Disney sent a handful of takedown notices in December 2019 with French free-to-air television channel TF1 taking an interest at roughly the same time.

Major search engines only have a handful of Crowdstream pages indexed but the suggestion is that the service hosted or linked to mainstream movies and may have been directed at the French market.

Coverage of previous ACE/MPA domain seizures can be found here.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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