As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, many governments have imposed lockdowns and are advising their citizens to follow social distancing. There have been wide-ranging consequences of these restrictions so far and there has been an increase in piracy and BitTorrent traffic as well. In this article, we will show you how the restrictions have made a major role in traffic increase in different countries.
Now, this doesn’t come as a surprise that due to the coronavirus pandemic, internet traffic has greatly increased as more people have started using it for work-related tasks, entertainment, and file-sharing purposes.
In the last few weeks, downloading of content from popular websites like YTS, The Pirate Bay, RARBG, etc. has boosted tremendously. While you can clearly see this upward rise in the global market, a better perspective can be gained by focusing on the download traffic of each country. And that’s exactly what we did and honestly, the results are quite interesting.
To start, take the example of Italy, it was the very first country in the European continent to get badly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the cases started surging with a huge death toll everywhere and no relief in sight, the Italy government decided to pose some restrictions on their citizens and implemented a lockdown from 9th March, ordering people to stay indoors and go out only to buy essentials like grocery, medicines, etc.
With the help of the data provided by https://iknowwhatyoudownload.com/en/peer/, it was easy to figure out the total number of the Italian IP addresses that were involved in torrents sharing from the beginning of this year along with the total number of downloads that were tracked.
As you can see from the below graph, both the total number of downloads in a day and the number of unique IP addresses for sharing reached a sudden high on March 9th, 2020. For a few days, both these numbers increased, and then after a while, it got stabilized.
It is interesting to note that on 8th March, just 1 day before the lockdown, there were around 213K unique IP addresses and 592K downloads. But, after just a week, the unique IP addresses value reached 304K while the downloads were increased to 810K.
A similar Internet trend can be witnessed in Spain as well a few days later, as the local government imposed similar lockdown measures here to keep the coronavirus infections in control. In Spain, the Spanish government started the lockdown from 14th March 2020 and both the number of unique IP addresses and the number of downloads reached a new high on that same date.
Again, similar to how it was in Italy, both these numbers continued to increased for a few days and later were stabilized. In fact, it has been noted that the number of downloads and unique IP addresses were approximately up by a third, just after a week from the lockdown date.
You can notice a similar pattern for France, as well as the countrywide lockdown measures, came into force. The country saw the year’s highest number of downloads and unique IP addresses on the date of the lockdown which gradually kept increasing for the next few days.
Now, the effect seen in the United Kingdom is slightly different and not as pronounced as other countries. This could be because the UK never put strict measures in place and people were still allowed to travel around freely in the country.
However, there is still an upward trend that you can notice in the downloads and unique IP addresses for the UK as well, even though it is less pronounced than other countries.
The Netherlands and Sweden
While European countries like France, Spain, and Italy have seen a massive rise in the numbers, the same is not true for European countries like Sweden and The Netherlands. Considered as outliers in Europe, The Netherlands showed no sudden spike in the downloads or unique IP addresses even though an intelligent lockdown measure has been put in place.
On the other hand, you don’t see much change in torrents download for Sweden as well although this was kind of expected. The Scandinavian country has placed no extreme measures to curb the virus spread till now.
The USA and South America
Next, after seeing the data for the United States, we have observed that there was no significant change in the download numbers in the past couple of weeks, there is just a minor increase only. This might be the case because not all the regions have the same level of lockdown measures and the most severe measures are limited to a few regions only.
On the other hand, you can clearly see the effects of lockdown measures in South American countries. For example, in Argentina, the number of downloads and unique IP addresses spiked up when the lockdown was announced on 19th March 2020 and kept going up for a few days.
On 17th March, before the lockdown, the country showed approximately 508K downloads with 179K unique IP addresses. And just a week after, on 25th March, the numbers were seen at 706K and 254K, respectively.
South Africa and Saudi Arabia
Now, if we consider other parts of the world, let’s say South Africa, we notice a similar boost in the traffic as well. A three-week lockdown was imposed in South Africa on 26th March and data shows that there was a significant increase in the downloads and reported IP addresses around the same dates.
A similar case was observed in Saudia Arabia as well where a few regions had some stringent measures in place. In Qatif, restrictions were placed on March 9 which was followed by restrictions on other places like Mecca, Riyadh, and Medina later on. And a gradual increase in downloads and reported IP addresses was observed from the day of the lockdown.
Coming to Asia now, the data differs widely here for different countries.
While there was a spike in the visits to the file-sharing websites in China, but there has been no such increase in downloads or reported IP addresses and the same is true for South Korea as well.
However, there was a notable increase in downloads and IP address data for a few Asian countries. But Singapore already had an increase in these downloads and reported IP addresses before severe restrictions were made for the public.
Overall, it is really interesting to see how the data charts closely follow the COVID-19 measures that have been taken around the world. The common trend that you can observe is that the more stringent lockdown measures are, the higher impact it has on the BitTorrent traffic.
This data will develop more over time and it would be intriguing to know if the traffic will ever return back to the pre-corona time or will it continue to stay high from now on.