Everyone remembers the long battle between FBI and Apple this winter which required the iPhone manufacturer to unlock the iPhones of two suspects for terrorism and drug-dealing. As the debate intensified with Apple refusing to compromise its customers’ privacy, it did help the FBI catch a different kind of criminal by providing key information.
Apple provided the FBI with account details and records that was allegedly owned by the founder of world’s biggest torrent site. Yes, we are talking about Artem Vaulin, owner of Kickass Torrent- KAT. Torrent is an online technology used to share files over the internet. The records shared by Apple were the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle in arresting the Ukrainian national, currently residing in Poland. He was taken in custody on the grounds of money laundering and copyright infringement.
Mr. Vaulin is allegedly responsible for illegal distribution and reproduction of copied movies, TV shows, music albums and video games worth a billion dollars. Apple has shown willingness to assist the FBI in certain cases, being at the forefront of music industry itself, despite vehemently refusing to violate the security of millions of its customers by providing encryption keys.
An FBI Special Agent suspected that an email firstname.lastname@example.org (Apple address) belonged to Vaulin. FBI contacted Apple and the company turned over the records of the account. It showed that purchases were made from Apple’s iTunes store using the account which was also linked to KAT Facebook Page and thus, received hundreds of email about the Torrent website. KAT’s Bitcoin account was also registered via email@example.com, accepting Bitcoin donations since 2012.
With this substantial proof, Vaulin was charged with multiple offences including criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. Sharing its encryption key with FBI hold no incentive for Apple, financial or otherwise. But through the collapse of a file-sharing website, Apple would gain a billion dollars’ worth of entertainment money rerouted from KAT.
In case of Vaulin, Apple apparently agrees with Zachary Fardon, the US attorney involved in KAT owner’s prosecution
“Copyright infringement exacts a large toll, a very human one, on the artists and businesses whose livelihood hinges on their creative inventions,” said Mr. Fardon in a statement. “Vaulin allegedly used the internet to cause enormous harm to those artists.”