The hugely popular download service uTorrent is still taking heat after announcing it would no longer freight downloads with software that slows the user's computer for the parent company's bitcoin-mining purposes -- a practice most users weren't aware of and hadn't agreed to. The software, known as Epic Scale, hijacks a user's computing and memory power in order for the company of the same name to generate computing power to mine for bitcoin.
Over 150 million users rely on uTorrent to download large torrent files, everything from academic papers to pirated movies and music. Updates downloaded between January and March 6 of this year have included Epic Scale, a bitcoin-mining program that slows all operations on normally-fast computers. A company moderator on uTorrent's forums said Sunday that after weeks of criticism, uTorrent has “paused the offer to allow time for us to do an evaluation.”
“As we've discussed in the past, partner offers are one of the ways we generate revenue,” the post said, referring to BitTorrent Inc.'s partnership with Epic Scale. “Many of you already understand that this is a common model for software companies that provide products and technology for free. Our policy is that these offers are strictly optional, and we have never done a silent install; in fact we built our installer technology to make silent installs impossible.”
But the charge is that uTorrent quietly included Epic Scale in a dense update agreement that users quickly clicked through, blindly agreeing to the terms and conditions.
“This is pure bloatware, just updated my uTorrent,” one user complained to TorrentFreak. “There was no notification; it just installed.”
“Got this installed when [I] upgraded uTorrent,” wrote another. “When I arrived home this evening my PC, was running at full tilt and practically blowing steam. I felt like it was going to catch fire.”
A uTorrent spokesman said that neither uTorrent nor BitTorrent Inc. mine for bitcoin or any other kind of cryptocurrency.