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The most famous torrent site in the world, The Pirate Bay, has done it again. The website – whose mere essence has been prompting important internet quandaries for over a decade and a half – is now exploring a new business model. And, true to its long controversial heritage, this monetization tactic is also quite debatable.
The torrent site currently employs its visitors’ CPU to mine Monero (XMR) coins in order to generate revenue, presumably instead of running ads.
This is not the first time that TPB is exploring this kind of mining option. Nearly a year ago, some users had detected that whenever they visit the site, their CPU had skyrocketed; the cause for the CPU jump was a special script within the site’s code that harnessed the user’s CPU in order to mine Monero coins. The site’s operators were then very quick to explain that this had been just a test with the purpose of getting rid of all the ads on the site. Later on, they further elaborated that not all of the user’s CPU had been used, but solely 20-30% and that the script had been restricted to run in one browser tab alone.
This time, however, it does not appear to be a test but a permanent (as much as “permanent” is actually permanent in an ever-changing world) way of generating revenue. At the bottom of the site’s pages (footer), you can find the following message:
By entering TPB you agree to XMR being mined using your CPU. If you don’t agree please leave now or install an adBlocker
So… the important question is whether this business model is legitimate or not? Whereas it’s clear that using the visitors’ CPU without a proper disclosure is wrong and fits the definition of cryptojacking (“a form of cyber attack in which a hacker hijacks a target’s processing power in order to mine cryptocurrency on the hacker’s behalf”), it’s pretty ambiguous if it’s legit when it is properly disclosed.
Personally, I believe that as long as it is disclosed and under certain stated restrictions such as those that TPB put forth, it is a fair and valid method to generate revenue. It is certainly better than all those annoying pop-up ads and dubious advertisements that had been there before.