Users of online pirate streaming services are probably being monitored by at least one major internet service provider (ISP), according to web traffic analysis that was used in a High Court case in September. The case saw UEFA obtain an injunction against ISPs in Ireland, compelling them to block access to pirated live games.
Although the decision to block websites and apps that facilitate the viewing of pirated content has been commonplace for a number of years, the court case made a noteworthy admission explaining why it was necessary to block additional websites.
“I am satisfied that the [blocking] Order is necessary for the purpose of protecting the Plaintiff’s copyright against infringement,” Justice David Barniville wrote (opens in new tab). “I note from the evidence, and accept, that there has been a significant shift away from the use of websites in more recent years in favor of devices and apps, in particular, set-top boxes that can be watched on televisions in people’s living rooms. The affidavit of Jiajun Chen provides a confidential traffic analysis which evidences the use of the Sky network by Irish viewers to watch online illegal UEFA content.”
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We're watching you
For Mr Chen to have access to traffic analysis, it would appear that Sky, in this instance, maintains a record of at least some of the data pertaining to internet users when they try to access pirated content. Internet users and supporters of online privacy may well be wondering exactly how much of an individual's browsing habits are being retained and for how long.
Although the particular court case that took place last month referred to Sky internet customers, it is likely that other ISPs have access to similar information. If that is the case, online users may want to explore using a VPN service to keep their privacy protected.
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