Best Ways to Unlock BitTorrent in The Netherlands

Last Updated by Valentine Milner on May 21, 2019

File sharing might be one of the best things about the Internet, but don’t tell that to the thousands of entertainment companies and artists who see their movies, songs, videos, and other forms of publication traded back-and-forth by non-paying customers on a daily basis.

The technology is BitTorrent, and it’s one of the Internet’s most controversial subjects. Users store media files on their computers and make them available to the peer network to be downloaded concurrently from multiple locations.

The “bits” can be downloaded non-sequentially and reordered upon the completion of the download, allowing the transfer process to go far more quickly than a traditional single-source download. And once the download is complete, the client becomes another “seed” for future downloads for as long as they keep the file.

The rub is that many files being shared are done so with violations of copyrights. Because of this, many BitTorrent platforms have been banned by countries all over the world. While there are plenty of legitimate, authorized uses for BitTorrent, the fact remains that it represents a great way to move copyrighted materials from source to source without paying for them.

BitTorrent’s History in the Netherlands

BitTorrent first came under fire in The Netherlands due to its use to distribute illegal pornography in 2008. In 2012, two Dutch Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were required by a court in The Netherlands to block popular BitTorrent website The Pirate Bay due to its continual violation of copyright violations.

The ban was extended to fellow Dutch ISPs KPN, UPC, T-Mobile, and Tele2 by May 012. The ban continued until January 2014 when a new law stated that file sharing for private use was allowed, but commercial file sharing was forbidden.

The same two ISPs, Ziggo and XS4All, were called to the Dutch Supreme Court in 2017 and again ordered to block The Pirate Bay, with the ban made permanent. Although no other torrent sites have been banned to date, speculation is that other torrenting and file-sharing sites will meet the fate of The Pirate Bay in the Netherlands in the future. All other ISPs in The Netherlands have since been ordered to block The Pirate Bay permanently as well. This mandate flies in the face of the Dutch Neutrality Law, which states that “providers of public electronic communication networks used to provide Internet access services as well as providers of Internet access services will not hinder or slow down services or applications on the Internet.”

BitTorrent Workarounds in The Netherlands

The ban on BitTorrent applies to anyone currently located in The Netherlands, whether they are citizens or those visiting for recreational or work-related activities. As the capital of the European Union and home of the Hague, this extends the ban on BitTorrent to tens of thousands of foreigners on a daily basis.

There are two workarounds to access BitTorrent from The Netherlands.

The first is to us a proxy server. A proxy server is a computer located outside of The Netherlands that your computer forms a network with. All of your Internet requests go to this other computer instead of directly to the Internet. The proxy then sends your requests on to the website in question – or in this case the BitTorrent site of your choice. The problem with using a proxy server to access BitTorrent is that your ISP can see what you are requesting and downloading. With the legal status of BitTorrent in The Netherlands, having your ISP be able to watch where you are going on the Internet is a bad idea.

A better solution is to employ a virtual private network (VPN) to do the proxy server’s work. A VPN is similar to a proxy server in that it uses a remote server to send data and requests from your computer to the Internet and back again. The difference comes in how the data is sent. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and its server so that any requests or uploads on your part are not visible to third parties such as your ISP. Information sent by you is decrypted by the VPN at its remote server outside of The Netherlands and given an IP address from the country the server is located in. That server then sends your requests to the BitTorrent provider. All files you download from BitTorrent are similarly sent to the remote server for encryption, then through the shielded tunnel back to your location.

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Valentine Milner
Valentine Milner is an expert writer with experience in Cyber Security. She started out working for a private company before venturing out on her own.