When it comes to content piracy, The Pirate Bay is one of the most well known names. While many have tried to bring the piracy site down, none of have succeeded yet. Now, an anti-piracy group and a VPN expert have teamed up to track down the location of The Pirate Bay.
The founders of the site have been actively hiding its location for years. Torrent Freak has reported that the site uses a Swedish VPN provider, OVPN, to hide its location. OVPN maintains that it doesn’t keep logs, making it seemingly impossible to track down users’ locations.
Swedish anti-piracy group Rights Alliance has enlisted the help of an expert from Cure 53, a cyber-security company known for penetration testing. Jesper Larsson, the expert involved with Cure 53, performs tests against “ten largest VPN Providers in the world,” according to court documents reviewed by Torrent Freak.
Larsson has been tapped by Rights Alliance to share how a VPN works and to comment on what type of information OVPN could have about The Pirate Bay. Though the court documents say that the VPN service is dedicated to protecting the privacy of its users, it also shows that there may be more information available than what has already been shared.
“Although [OVPN] strive to store as little data as possible, there must be data connecting users and identities to make the VPN service work. In this case, a user has paid for a VPN account with the ability to connect a public static address to OVPN which the user has then chosen to link to the file sharing site ‘the piratebay’, i.e the user has configured his VPN account to point to the given domain.”
Because The Pirate Bay used the Public IPV4 add-on, a static IP address would have been connected to the account which would result in some information being stored, according to Larsson.
“OVPN should thus be able to search its VPN servers for the given IP address, or alternatively search in their user databases or in backups of these to locate a given user or identity,” Larsson commented.
When asked by Torrent Freak whether that would be possible, the company responded: “We take backups of our production database multiple times per day in order to prevent any possible data loss. The backups however are automatically deleted after a few days, so the backups that actually could show which user account was allocated the IP address were already deleted when the injunction was filed.”
The case is ongoing.
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Jess Barnes attended Edinboro University and spent years working in nonprofit before taking up freelance writing in 2012. Jess has been working for Cord Cutters News since 2017.