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TorGuard is the latest US VPN provider to be taken to court due to copyright violations on their network related to P2P file sharing.
TorrentFreak managed to obtain documents from the case, which state: “Pursuant to a confidential settlement agreement, Plaintiffs have requested, and Defendant has agreed to use commercially reasonable efforts to block BitTorrent traffic on its servers in the United States using firewall technology.”
As of March 2022, TorGuard has started taking measures to block BitTorrent traffic on servers in the United States.
What does this mean for users in the country, and for VPN services based in the region? Let’s explore.
TorGuard’s Torrenting Case
TorGuard is headquartered in Orlando, Florida, and was founded by Benjamin Van Pelt in 2007. As our TorGuard review notes, with no relation to the Tor project, TorGuard is named due to its ability to access torrents. They still advertise themselves as a “BT-focused proxy server and torrent VPN service provider.”
As the company and some of its VPN servers used for torrenting are based in the US, it was easier to get mixed up in the US court system, where copyright holders could stake any claims relating to illegal downloads.
TorGuard has reportedly settled a lawsuit initially brought against it by a group of 27 movie studios in October 2021. The service agreed to block users from accessing BitTorrent via their VPN as part of the settlement.
“TorGuard has not been forced to log network usage data. Due to the nature of shared IPs and related hardware technicalities of how TorGuard’s network was built, it is impossible for us to do so.”
That’s certainly a good thing for users. They then add:
“We have a responsibility to provide high-quality uninterrupted VPN and proxy services to our client base at large while mitigating any related network abuse that should arise. This commitment to user privacy and service reliability is the reason we have taken measures to block BitTorrent traffic on servers within the United States.”
That’s one interpretation of events, but it’s still difficult to frame the story in a positive light. After all, the Tor in TorGuard literally stands for torrenting, which users will no longer be able to do on their US servers.
If you consider the above statements critically, it’s clear they needed to comply with US courts to stay in business. However, there’s no point in pretending that they aren’t doing it because they have to.
TorGuard US Headquarters
In terms of being headquartered in the US, TorGuard says:
“We operate transparently within the USA as it offers our clients the strongest consumer privacy protections with no mandatory data logging requirements. TorGuard’s customer base has never been sold or acquired and after ten years in business we are still managed by the original founder who is willing to stake their personal reputation on every decision the company makes.”
Users will still be able to share via P2P using servers found in other countries, although speeds are likely to be slower if you’re doing so from within the US.
What This Means for US VPNs
What does the news mean for users of USA VPNs? It’s not ideal if you have an annual TorGuard subscription, and you were planning to connect to their US servers for P2P purposes. Meanwhile, it’s worth mentioning that TorGuard wasn’t the first US-based provider to be taken to court in recent years.
Take VPN Unlimited case, where a similar deal was struck in January 2022. They now make “commercially reasonable efforts to block BitTorrent traffic,” along with various torrenting sites including YTS, The Pirate Bay, RARBG, 1337x, and several proxies.
“The primary use of VPN Unlimited is not to download torrents, but to offer online security. There are limited cases when our technical team has to subside connection speeds due to torrenting. We allow legal usage of P2P file sharing on Canada-Ontario, Romania, and France servers.”
It will only get tougher to download P2P files with US VPNs, even if you keep it legal.
Best VPNs for Torrenting
We’ve listed a trio of great VPNs for torrenting below, avoiding US-owned services that could face issues in the future. They all have no data caps, and offer great speeds on servers that don’t log user data.
NordVPN is arguably the best VPNs on the market today. With over 5,200 P2P-optimized servers in its network, NordVPN offers a perfect mix of quality and affordability. It also outperforms almost every other premium service in terms of performance and security.
Best of all, NordVPN is based in privacy-friendly Panama, which bodes well for users seeking protection from government surveillance.
Users can also enjoy NordVPN’s one-click torrenting feature, proprietary SmartPlay DNS, and an automatic kill switch.
Based in Romania, CyberGhost is another great option for P2P file sharing. They say:
“While we do not condone the use of torrents for copyrighted material, we do believe that everyone should be able to use torrents safely and anonymously. This is where CyberGhost VPN comes in. We keep you anonymous while torrenting, no matter your location, tracker, or ISP.”
Currently, they have over 7,900 servers on offer, including many that are specifically optimized for torrenting and streaming. It’s especially easy to use, and offers simultaneous connections on up to 7 devices at once.
ExpressVPN is a privacy-focused VPN provider based in the British Virgin Islands. You’ll be able to use thousands of servers found in 160 cities and 94 countries for torrenting. Not to mention, they have some of the fastest download speeds on the market.
They offer lots of additional features such as SmartDNS, as well as the custom Lightway protocol for improved performance. There’s an industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee just in case, but you’re highly unlikely to need it. Along with torrenting, ExpressVPN is great for unblocking various streaming services such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
On the one hand, it’s probably a good thing that TorGuard chose to block torrents directly. It suggests that they have no user logs to hand over, or would prefer not to do so. Instead, they’re now blocking BitTorrent traffic on their US servers.
It’s likely not great for their business model, especially considering downloading torrents safely and easily was important enough to name their service after. Hence, the “Tor” in TorGuard.
The news is another blow for VPN providers in the US, as torrents are a major driver for VPN usage. It’s also going to have an effect on users if they attempt to use servers found in the United States, as torrenting sites and services like BitTorrent are now blocked directly.
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