It was quietly announced this past week that uTorrent, a torrent client owned in full by BitTorrent, would soon began to include sponsored torrents. The newest build will have a featured torrent on top of users’ torrent lists. The post explains that they are attempting to make sure these are relevant to their users’ interests, which has evoked further concerns about how exactly parent company BitTorrent intends on tracking their data to provide said relevance.
Prior to this new update, BitTorrent has made their cash off the optional toolbar provided with uTorrent’s installation. That means that the potential audience for revenue is much more limited than, say, Twitter or your typical website, where everyone’s party to the advertising and can therefore be leveraged to gain a buck. The sponsored torrents certainly seems to be a middle ground rather than resorting to traditional ads.
The uTorrent team’s post summarizes exactly what’s going to happen fairly succinctly:
This new build will display a featured torrent at the top of your torrent list. This featured torrent space will be used to offer a variety of different types of content. We are working towards bringing you offers that are relevant to you. This means films, games, music, software…basically anything that you will find interesting. We may not get it right on the first try but we will continue to improve our efforts based on your feedback.
There will obviously be a vocal community that opposes any sort of advertisement in the program. After all, “offers that are relevant to you” reads somewhat scarily like “tailored to your interests” which often equates to programs keeping track of certain user activities. Should a uTorrent use the program to illegally obtain something, is that now going to be tracked for advertising purposes and have a proverbial paper trail? Only time will tell.
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