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NSA Broke the Encryption on File-Sharing Apps Kazaa and eDonkey

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Before services like Spotify and Netflix proliferated, people who wanted to listen to music or watch movies online, on demand, had few legal options. Instead, they would download copies of pirated media using file-sharing technology. In early 2004, close to 8 million people in the U.S. alone were estimated to have downloaded music through so-called peer-to-peer apps like LimeWire, eDonkey, Kazaa, and BitTorrent. While it’s difficult to measure exactly how much of the world’s internet traffic consists of people swapping files, at the time some estimates said it was approaching 40 percent. (It was closer to 11 percent by 2016, according to another estimate.)

With this much file sharing occurring online, it’s no surprise that the National Security Agency took notice. According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the spy agency formed a research group dedicated to studying peer-to-peer, or P2P, internet traffic. NSA didn’t care about violations of copyright law, according to a 2005 article on one of the agency’s internal news sites, SIDtoday. It was trying to determine if it could find valuable intelligence by monitoring such activity.

“By searching our collection databases, it is clear that many targets are using popular file sharing applications,” a researcher from NSA’s File-Sharing Analysis and Vulnerability Assessment Pod wrote in a SIDtoday article. “But if they are merely sharing the latest release of their favorite pop star, this traffic is of dubious value (no offense to Britney Spears intended).”

In order to........

© The Intercept