Under France’s controversial new Hadopi legislation, or three-strikes law, internet users are being closely monitored by the government for illegal file-sharing activity. Those who receive more than two warnings from their ISP are fined and risk losing service to their entire household.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before file-sharing services began to find creative ways to help their users dodge the system.
SmartTorrent, the largest French torrent site with over 1,700,000 registered members, has actually started its own virtual private network (VPN) service to help shield users from the effects of the legislation. The service, SmartVPN, allows torrent users to access an alternative IP address outside of the country to avoid ISP detection and the risk of receiving warning letters.
“Since the adoption of this new HADOPI law we thought about starting a VPN service,” a Smartorrent co-founder told TorrentFreak. “We wanted to give our beloved users the ability to keep downloading safely by using our VPN servers that are located in Canada.”
Since the SmartVPN service became operational last month, nearly 2,500 Smartorrent users have signed up at a cost of 5 euros per month. Site owners say that they are opening dozens of new accounts per day.
Currently, there is nothing in the Hadopi legislation to prevent French citizens from using VPN, so this is a perfectly valid method of getting around the government’s monitoring. The only way that I could see the French government combat such services would be add a provision stating that servers must be located within the country’s borders. With the widespread use of VPN to allow corporate employees to work remotely, I don’t see anything like that happening anytime soon.