The newly launched torrent search engine BTindex crawls BitTorrent's DHT network for new files.
It's a handy service, but one that comes with a controversial twist. In addition to listing hundreds of thousands of magnet links, it also exposes the IP-addresses of BitTorrent users to the rest of the world.
Unless BitTorrent users are taking steps to hide their identities through the use of a VPN, proxy, or seedbox, their downloading habits are available for almost anyone to snoop on.
By design the BitTorrent protocol shares the location of any user in the swarm. After all, without knowing where to send the data nothing can be shared to begin with.
Despite this fairly common knowledge, even some experienced BitTorrent users can be shocked to learn that someone has been monitoring their activities, let alone that their sharing activity is being made public for the rest of the world to see.
Like it or not, this is exactly what the newly launched torrent search engine BTindex is doing.
Unlike most popular torrent sites BTindex adds new content by crawling BitTorrent’s DHT network. This is already quite unique as most other sites get their content from user uploads or other sites. However, the most controversial part without doubt is that the IP-addresses of BitTorrent users are being shared as well.
People who download a file from The Pirate Bay or any other torrent site expose their IP-addresses via the DHT network. BTindex records this information alongside the torrent metadata. The number of peers are displayed in the search results and for each file a selection of IP-addresses is made available to the public.