Monday January 30, 2017

Tax Authority Grilled VLC Player Over Link From a Torrent Site

VLC player is a very popular video playback application that has been downloaded over 2 billion times. Torrent website Torrent 9 linked to the program in their help section to make playback of videos easier for their customers. The French Tax Authority took this endorsement of VLC Player to mean that the torrent website and VLC Player's parent company; VLAN, were doing business together. The French Tax Authority started asking VLAN for personal and financial information related to Torrent 9's business and customer's personal data which they of course knew nothing about. After the story broke it caused quite a stir, and the Tax Authority backed down as they realized their mistake as an "error of judgement."

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While the Internet is full of links, the National Tax Investigation Branch suspected that VideoLAN was closely involved with the torrent site, asking the organization to hand over all sorts of documentation. Specifically, they requested "complete customer details," "bank details," "payment methods of the customer and date of last payment," and a copy of the "referencing contract" for the and domains. When confronted with the usual request by a reporter, the Ministry of Economy and Finance didn’t give in. Instead, it reportedly stated that "if they have a link to your website, it’s because you pay them: SEO is not free..," suggesting some kind of active cooperation.