TorrentFreak reports that the use of BitTorrent VPNs and proxies have increased since the launch of the Copyright Alert System. The report is based on search trend data provided by Google which shows a significant spike in the use of terms like "BitTorrent VPN" and "BitTorrent Proxy" since the alert system went live weeks ago.
"Some people may stop or share less when they receive warnings, but there will also be a group that will respond to the warnings by becoming more anonymous. A third group will try to find other means to share files than BitTorrent, since these are not monitored," said researcher Stefan Larsson.
In fact, the volume of searches for "bittorrent VPN" have peaked at 100 in March 2013, the highest number on Google's chart. In February, the number reached 93, a significant jump from January's 68. The "bittorrent proxy" term isn't quite so spectacular, with a score of 19 in March but slightly higher than February's score of 16. Keep in mind that the numbers change depending on how the search terms are spelled.
According to the report, several VPN providers have confirmed an increased interest over the last several weeks. Some are even using the Copyright Alert System in their marketing to lure potential file-sharing clients.
"To prevent yourself from being caught in this endless loop of strikes and invasion of privacy use BeeVPN whenever you're online and defend yourself against others seeing your real IP," states BeeVPN in a blog. "This method is very effective and guarantees that you won't be caught in the fishing net of these privacy invaders."
Andrew Lee of VPN service PrivateInternetAccess believes there is a high chance consumers will be wrongfully accused by the new system, and that it lacks any rights to due process. "As a result of CAS, we have seen an increased amount of discussion regarding VPNs around the social realm,” he said.
So far ISPs participating in the new Copyright Alert System, which includes Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon and others, have no plans to disconnect stubborn downloaders. But the system is an indication that customers are being monitored whether it’s the ISP itself of a third-party organization hired by content owners. This "big brother" aspect has privacy advocates and consumers alike up in arms.