Not Even Earthquake Can Keep Japan’s File-Sharing Community Down

Despite the damage suffered by some underwater communication cables during the Sendai earthquake and tsunami, multiple sources have reported that Japan’s Internet services are still working over the past couple of weeks.

Last month, AquaLab Group, a team at Northwestern University near Chicago used its own BitTorrent monitoring tools to watch the number of BitTorrent peers exchanging data during the week before the earthquake and the first week of Japan disaster. They found the numbers to be almost identical, with one exception.

From AquaLab’s findings:

The exception can be seen in the 24-hour period immediately following the earthquake, which occurred at 2:46pm local time on Friday, March 11th. As the graph shows, the number of BitTorrent peers found online differed by as much as 25 percent in this period compared to the previous week at the same time. Surprisingly, we still see a large number of peers online and activity returns to normal on Saturday morning.

A week earlier, AquaLab published their own graphs showing the BitTorrent situation in Egypt and Libya when regimes in both countries tried to shut down Internet connectivity.

Both graphs above show the number of BitTorrent peers seen for each country, per hour, before and after Internet access was cut off. In each case, we can clearly see a sharp drop in the number of connected users in those countries, to the point that each country almost completely disappears from BitTorrent.

Funny how it seemed oppressive regimes could accomplish what nature couldn’t.