Online piracy and torrent activities surge due to COVID-19 lockdown

Online piracy activities have surged because of COVID-19 lockdown. Torrent platforms are also reporting usage upticks.

Recent reports have noted that traffic to illegal streaming websites has surged in Europe and North America. The statistics published by Muso also revealed that there is a huge uptick in online piracy activities after lockdowns were imposed in many countries.

As people are locked into their homes, they are looking for alternative platforms for entertainment. Illegal streaming sites and torrent platforms are a favorite since they offer their services for free.

What are the numbers

Muso revealed that access and user activities on illegal streaming sites went up by 41 percent in the U.S. and 42 percent in the U.K. The analytics company added that these figures were from the last week of March only.

The company also pointed out the same surge in illegal activities in several European countries. In Italy, access to illegal streaming sites went up by 66 percent, 50 percent in Spain, and 35 percent in Germany.

Muso suggested that the surge in online piracy and illegal streaming can be traced back to when countries started implementing lockdowns. People are looking for alternative platforms to access entertainment because of the lockdown.

Muso also pointed out that the lockdown also caused a surge for legal online activities like Netflix. During the first quarter of the year, Netflix reported more than 15 million new subscribers. This brought the platform’s total membership number to 180 million

Other streaming services like Disney Plus also reported positive growth. Five months after its initial release, Disney Plus now has amassed more than 50 million subscribers. As a reference, Netflix took seven years to reach that user base.

What are the repercussions

Online piracy and illegal streaming sites are interesting because it usually offer their services for free. To monetize their operations, these websites and services are usually riddled with ads.

Advertisements are the least worrisome feature of these online piracies. Illegal streaming and download sites are usually the breeding ground for malware and viruses. Users can unknowingly download the malware which can steal their passwords and other information.

Malware is fundamentally invisible, a trait that makes them hard to contain. Even an infected machine may look and perform normally while the malware operations in the background.

While online piracy does offer a rewarding alternative to paid services, the downside can be irreparable. On the upside, legal services like Netflix and other streaming platforms are always the safe bet.

Images courtesy of Jordan Harrison/Unsplash and Helpameout/Wikimedia Commons

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