Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

'I Know What You Download': Website claims to let people see everything their friends have torrented

The company appears to be using the intrusive website as a way of marketing its services to police and content owners, but serves a reminder of the kind of information made readily available on the internet

Andrew Griffin
Sunday 01 January 2017 11:15 GMT
The online tool is able to search a user’s IP address and pull up any downloading records linked to it
The online tool is able to search a user’s IP address and pull up any downloading records linked to it (Getty)

A new website claims to be able to show everything you – and your friends – have torrented.

I Know What You Download” gathers information frm across the internet to find out the things that people have been downloading. And it even provides an easy way for friends to make that information available, too – meaning that you may already have been tricked into exposing your torrenting habits.

The tool works simply by looking up the IP address of the person using it. While torrents might feel secret, unless they are protected they are attached to those same unique IP addresses – meaning that anyone looking to find a download can be identified by others doing so at the same time.

By default, the invasive tool will find your own IP and then show anything it has a record of you downloading.

But it also has a feature intended to allow people to see what their friends are downloading. It includes a feature allows people to send a link that looks like something innocent – such as to Facebook or a news page – which can then be shared with people who will be tricked into clicking on it. Once that happens, the site will log the friends IP and show everything that it has a record of them downloading.

Using the site and particularly the tool for contacting friends is not recommended by The Independent, given that it is not clear who the site is run by or what they are doing with the information being collected.

The people behind the site appear to suggest that they are running it as a way of marketing their services to content owners and to police. Among the site’s services it can find out who is downloading certain content and help protect that same content as well as other services like finding users who share child pornography.

The tool can work because of the way that torrents make content available.

When torrenting, people are both seeding or sending out and leeching or downloading content – all of that happens from other users in the network, and so those computers connect with each other. If one computer wants to find out the identity of others sending or taking content from it then it can, and that appears to be happening on the new website.

Similar tools are already used by the companies that own films, music and TV shows that are being torrented. There have regularly been reports of those companies pursuing people who have downloaded their content either for costs or to force them to stop using torrenting services, likely using the same tools.

In all cases, the downloads are only tied to IP addresses and not to specific people. That means that the site and services like it will only show whether someone has been on your internet connection, and not necessarily which computer did it or even that the computer was in a person's house.

The site also makes clear that it might have limited records because people's IPs can change, and because one IP address might be assigned to a range of people.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in