This post is ancient in internet time, but I tend to agree with Torrent Freak’s third prediction from their “5 bitTorrent Predictions for 2010”:
Prediction 3: More people will use BitTorrent anonymously
2010 is the year where copyright holders gain more control over the Internet. Three-strikes legislation will be rolled out in various countries and global trade agreements such as ACTA will result in humongous fines for casual downloaders.
As a result of this newly founded Internet police state, millions of BitTorrent users will take measures to hide their identities online. By the end of the year, a quarter of all BitTorrent users will use a VPN service or similar anonymity software, with another quarter looking to do so in the following 12 months. This will make new legislation ineffective, and lead to further lobbying by the entertainment industry for even harsher anti-piracy measures.
This cycle will repeat itself until the entertainment industry decides to innovate.
The major political battles on the internet over net neutrality, privacy, and the right to share our culture are congealing around the technology of bitTorrent. It is not surprising given it remains a means of radical distribution of media of all kinds at lightning fast download speeds and harnesses the efficiency of the decentralized network through a constructive scaling. BitTorrent as a P2P architecture really defines the best development in the moment of Web 2.0, using the decentralized network to re-imagine decentralized distribution—it just happened to be the least marketable. And the major players in the culture distribution market are not keen on this technology for obvious reasons, and hence bitTorrent has remained criminalized for almost a decade.
And what kills me is everyone is screaming about how the iPad and its ilk can change education, while the bitTorrent protocol has all but been outlawed from campuses around the country due to interest groups and an almost across-the-board fear of lawsuits. Why aren’t we more concerned with the proliferation of an open protocol that has been proven to radicalize the delivery of content over the web dramatically and sustainably, rather than pushing products that will never allow for such a protocol to ever fully be experimented with? (How is bitTorrent running on your iPhone, tough guy?) Well, perhaps it’s not because anyone is evil, perhaps it is simply because the market for gateway devices and consumption is being driven by those corporations that have everything to gain from keeping the web less than neutral as well as keeping the consumer paying for every aspect of their web experience.
I think of this more as a cultural issue than a specifically educational one, and I am still wondering why more people are not up in arms about it? I need to look for a means to communicate it without simply lamenting “Why doesn’t anyone care?” —I’m just not sure how.