FBI employees love the BitTorrent

TorrentFreak used the ScanEye BitTorrent monitoring service to check what was being downloaded by IP addresses associated with the FBI. There's a lot:

As can be seen above there is a particular interest in movies and TV-show downloads at the FBI’s largest division.

Some of the titles are relevant to the intelligence community such as “Homeland”, “The Girl Who played With Fire”, “The Good Wife” and “Dexter”. Other titles, including the Aussie soap opera Home and Away, are more general entertainment.

The big question is of course why these FBI IP-addresses are showing up in BitTorrent swarms.

The most likely explanation is that employees were downloading these videos for personal entertainment. This wouldn’t be much of a surprise really, as we’ve seen this before at congressional offices the Department of Justice, national parliaments, record labels and movie studios.

FBI Employees Download Pirated Movies and TV-Shows [Ernesto/TorrentFreak]


    1. I’m sure there’s a very good reason for these downloads, probably involving [national security] or maybe [national security], or possibly even [national security].


    2. If I were to take a guess why, I think they would probably have been looking for a few specific countries ip’s and behaviors. What a perfect place to sit, and try and break into accounts. someplace where there is so much traffic no one would notice someone running a small cracker, or using other methods to break in.  

      Of course, that’s just my opinion. 

      Oh, that’s right, last time the chineese used a few Universities course anyone can normally get into those with a few unix/alpha commands.

      I had 4 hackers from china and 2 from cecz today alone on one machine. They don’t even bother to try and break into the machines anymore, they just re-route your dns and they are damn good at it, although I do have to believe the rus folks are about the best in the world.

      Hiya there bearpaw01 I agree with everything you just said. except that that homeland wouldn’t bother using fbi id’s, and btw, what makes you believe they are really fbi? I mean, well, these days I don’t trust much unles I can see the direct line with no major hops. And if there’s a hub in between, forget it unless you have / can get access to ensure you’re still tracing the same signal. or the one with a person on the other end of it instead of a bot.

      And what Bearpaw01 said.
      You’ve no idea how hard some of these folks work and sometimes with machines less than kids gaming machines. You want your bank account drained or your social security number to disappear fine, but I’m a little bit fond of mine personally.

  1. Copyright enforcement = 21st century Prohibition. Public ‘probity’ concealing private ‘vice’.

    History has to repeat itself because people won’t bloody listen!

    1.  While I think the current status of copyright is a pitiful and arcane mess, your analogy just doesn’t work. People paid for their bootlegged liquor.

      1. See ‘copying is not theft’.

        The simple fact is, we’re still missing a sensible way to address the issue of paying for online content, but that does nothing to change the reality that yesterday’s business models are utterly irrelevant to the modern landscape.

        How about some serious discussion of possible methods of embracing this reality, like say, making file-sharing a government service, and paying content owners out of consolidated revenue?

      2. The anology is pretty darn accurate.

        People didn’t pay the large alchol companies for their bootlegged liquor.  They paid for access for liquor copies.  Similar to how people pay their ISPs and File Locker and News Group services.  Very few people have FREE internet and pay nothing for access to their “vice”.

    2. Speaking of vice, hypocrisy is one thing, but Home & Away is an utterly awful Aussie soap, and it boggles my mind that any foreigner could be depraved enough to watch it.

  2. When I lived with other students in a big house we rented, and the landlord failed to meet his obligations, we decided to withhold payment and notified him of this. The landlord surprisingly sued only the females and freshmen, thinking he could score by going for the apparently-weaker targets.

    The judge explained that he dismissed the case because a) we were in the right, but more importantly b) that the landlord had to sue all or none – he could not choose his targets when the apparent crime was one and the same.

    Would it therefore not be a cool idea to expose all these FBI personnel and see what happens? Either the MAFIAA will sue, and cause much idiocy and possibly an interesting outcome, or they will not sue, in which case anyone sued thereafter could try to get the action dismissed.

    1. The case would never be heard. They could claim sovereign immunity and be done with it – that’s even if the MPAA or whatever media group even bothered to sue them.

        1. I just have to ask this.  Do you guys Really think anyone who workes for the FBI or Homeland has the TIME to sit and download for fun?? Or, That they would really want to?? after 12-14 hour+ days running down crap on a computer, do you really think that’s what they want to do at home?? 

          I mean, Ok, I’m done, You guys keep pontificating about something like why someone wants to go home and sit on a computer after sitting at one all day + people do have lives and kids and sports and friends and community and damn you need to get out more.

  3. So, it´s ok to expose  users, even “legitimate” ones, like the sopa opera fan, as long as they work for the Evil Goverment? Don´t they have a right to privacy?

    1. Right to privacy as private persons yes, but I believe that public servants in the course of their public duty cannot expect those same rights. These persons, whose salary you pay, were using public equipment, for which you paid, to perform a crime, which they are supposed to prevent.

    2. Well do I have a right not to be fired for looking at porn on a company computer?  I could do it at home on my own free time, using my own computer and network.  But for some reason I feel the need to do it at work, so that makes it just as legal and okay, right?  (And in this case looking at porn is at least legal in most places – according to the law downloading a movie isn’t legal for anyone anywhere in the US.)

      That is what is basically happening here.  These aren’t specific people, we aren’t saying a high ranking official is illegallydownloading a TV show.  What they are showing is that internet addresses registered to the FBI are downloading these shows/movies.  Perhaps some of it is for legitimate reasons, but I would guess a large portion are for private viewing (ie not sanctioned by any specific department in the FBI).

      No matter your opinion on downloading such TV shows or movies what they are doing is currently illegal.  TorrentFreak is simply point out that the FBI is engaged in illegal activity.

    3.  Any Government employee is in a sense an employee of the people, any actions they take part in DURING BUSINESS HOURS and USING GOVERNMENT PROPERTY inherently can be told to the public.

      1. That’s not exactly true. Especially when it goes towards an ongoing investigaton; data tracking, and numerous other things. These Officials DO NOT work for us. We did not elect them. We did not vote for them. They have a specific mandate which have already been voted on an approved by everyone , which they need to follow. 

        It is a falasy to tell yourself, ‘well, he’s a cop so I pay his salery.’ yah, your taxes go to schools, roads and bridges, so No, they do not work for us. When we vote them in office, like we do a Sherrif then they still don’t work for ‘us’ they work for the mandate which all people have voted for.

  4. come on, have a heart.  If you think those FBI warnings that cannot be skipped through on purchased DVDs are ironically annoying because the people who pirate don’t have to sit through them, they’re extra-ironically annoying for the people that put them there in the first place.

  5. Just speculating, but I wonder if they possibly watch these to keep up to date on the possible methods/motives of amateur criminals who glean their ideas from popular television and movies?

    1. Then, if it’s for professional reasons, the answer would be a cable TV subscription. Or a box set of DVDs.

  6. To me that seems doubtful, but I suppose it’s possible. That still wouldn’t excuse illegally downloading, however.

  7. Is it easy to spoof IP’s nowadays? If so, I wouldn’t be surprised to find an IP spoofing program with the FBI as a default.

    1. Never been proven in court, ask the around 300,000 people who have faced being extorted by copyright trolls with nothing more but and IP address on a list.  And then there is the US program of 6 strikes that uses an IP address to issue strikes against accountholders that can result in an interruption of their service.  Its not a legal system, its corporate law being forced onto people by other corporations that get public subsidies to provide the wires to connect everyone to the series of tubes… but they justify it by saying terms of service and acceptable use policies trump federal law…
      So no, these are FBI workers breaking the law.  Just like the pool of IP’s for the **AA’s were logged downloading content illegally.  Just like the studios downloading other studios productions.

  8. Not to derail this thread, but I have a big issue with HD as it is right now anyway.

    I am trying to do the right thing.  My wife still uses a VCR because we will be damned to pay $100 a month for digital cable a POS DVR box I have to “rent”.  I have recently acquired a TV capture card for the PC and a WD TV Live box.  The idea was to create a basic digital VCR…which ironically where made for a few years before they where not anymore.  What I have figured out is there doesn’t appear to be a set format for HD ATSC (haven’t tried OTA as I don’t want to fool with an antenna.)  I have ABC coming in at 720P 60FPS and switching between AC3 5.1 and 2.0, while CBS is 1080P 30FPS with even more audio and subchannel options…  Unlike DVD’s it makes it very hard to work with the video/audio in an automated format.

    It’d be nice if HD was a specific set format(s) like DVD is.
    and yes I realize DVD has a lot of options for video, progressive, interlaced, NTSC, PAL, VIDEO, but at least the formatting and audio layout is always the same.)

      1. Oh yeah, so it is.  Well the i vs. p part wasn’t where I was having problems with it.  I use DGIndex to get something where I can edit the stream and demux the audio, but for some reason it keeps crapping out when dealing with the audio side even though it is AC3 just like ABC…

        Once I saw that happening I kind of just put CBS on the back burner until I get ABC squared away first.

        Going from an MPEG2 HD 5.1 stream to a commercial free H.264 stereo stream is being a way more pain in the rear than I thought it’d be.

    1. You can still buy a tivo like dvr without renting from the cable or satellite company, you know that, right? I’m all for DIY stuff, but don’t bother if your only reason is the product doesn’t exist anymore, because it does.

  9. Gotta be someone with admin rights, like IT or IA. Ordinary users would be blocked from torrent sites on government machines.

    1. One would hope.  But one would hope there would be rules about using racial profiling to setup their own lone wolf terrorists to stop for headlines… or using their office to put their wives on the on fly list… or using post it notes to demand records…

  10. One of the easiest ways to gather ip addresses of illegal torrent downloaders is by being one yourself. I wouldn’t be suprised if just about every popular torrent swarm had one FBI leech there just to gather ip address data on everyone else. I seriously doubt that agents are sitting around the office using company bandwidth to download illegal media for personal use. Strange that this wasn’t already suggested by the article.

    1. And they should be fired at that point.  The FBI should not be wasting resources pursuing matters heard in a civil case.  There are a bunch of criminals who destroyed the banking industry, time looking at them might be better used.
      Oh and its ICE’s job to monitor them not the FBI.

      1. Fired?  For what?

        Chances are that people who take from one cookie jar have had their grubby little paws in others as well.  You can cross reference and correlate multiple data sets to develop a profile and identify behavioral patterns.  

        It’s called investigating.  Perhaps you’ve heard of the technique on one of your favorite television dramas.

        1. Well then by all means lets use the FOIA to find out how they modified the software to not actually be participating in the “illegal” activity.
          I find your attempt to spin FBI employee’s violating copyright into they are investigating other people because people who infringe on copyright are obviously tied to other criminal enterprises.
          Other than in propaganda put on TV with McGruff the crime dog, there are not organized groups on the BT networks selling content to finance drugs, sex trafficking, child labor, etc etc.  These illusions are merely setup to make people think that if someone violates copyright they are also producing fake drugs to poison people with.
          They should be fired for being stupid.  They are, in your version, allegedly monitoring the networks using obvious IP addresses owned by the FBI.  That is as good as running an investigation from a van marked Flowers By Irene.   It is much more likely these top cops are infringing upon copyright for their own benefit while pretending to enforce the law.

  11. In our land of the RULE OF LAW does this mean that:

    – They will be hounded by Carmen Ortiz to death?
    – They will have their lives destroyed by the DoJ?
    – They will be forced to plea deals by a mountain of charges adding to decades?
    – They will face $750,000 fines for 10 movies, destroying their lives?
    – They will have all their personal computers, data and home ransacked?
    – Their assets, cars, homes and businesses will be frozen or seized?
    – They will be wiretapped and GPS-tracked for felony copyright infringment?

    Equal under the law, they said.

    We’re sharpening the guillotines, we said.

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