If you think your peer-to-peer file sharing can be kept under wraps, think again. A federal judge in Vermont has ruled that you should have no expectation whatsoever that your P2P data is ever private.

In a case focussed on the detection of child pornography, defendants argued that police gained data from a P2P network illegally without a search warrant. District Court Judge Christina Reiss disagreed:

"The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that the only information accessed was made publicly available by the IP address or the software it was using... Accordingly, either intentionally or inadvertently, through the use of peer-to-peer file sharing software, Defendants exposed to the public the information they now claim was private."

The police had, in fact, been using a variety of software to automate their snooping, which automatically matched files with an IP address, hash value, date and time. But, as the judge noted, the searches could have performed manually by either law enforcement or the public (though, uh, it would've taken quite a long time). Regardless, the upshot: your P2P data isn't ever private. Deal. [Fourth Amendment via Verge]

Image: alexskopje / Shutterstock