If you are streaming TV shows and movies with Kodi unofficial add-ons and use the Trakt.tv integration, you are potentially putting your privacy at risk!
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help protect yourself.
In this post, I will show you how to safely use Trakt with Kodi add-ons.
How to Use Trakt.tv with Kodi Add-ons
There is a new trend in Kodi unofficial video streaming add-ons. The trend is the use of a 3rd party service called Trakt.tv to managing TV Show and Movie lists, subscriptions, and watched statuses.
Many Kodi add-ons make use of the Trakt.tv API to sync all your show lists and what you’ve already watched.
The feature itself is actually very awesome when you get to using it. Gone are the days where your library of shows with their watched statuses are stored on one computer (or on one MySQL server). In those cases, you risk losing everything and having to manually add your shows again and mark everything you’ve watched as watched.
But with Trakt.tv, you can try out any of the add-ons that support it and even go back and forth between them, and you’ll always have the most up-to-date shows and watched status.
Note: To have Trakt.tv keep track of your watched status, you actually need to install the Trakt.tv standalone add-on from the Kodi official repository. By default the streaming add-ons only use Trakt to get the watched status and of course to get the show lists.
The Privacy Issue with Trakt.tv
So, the issue is that Trakt.tv is tracking your TV show activity and actually publishing that on its website. You can actually see what shows are being watched right now and see the users who are currently watching it.
Compliance with Laws and Law Enforcement. Trakt cooperates with government and law enforcement officials and private parties to enforce and comply with the law. We will disclose any information about you to government or law enforcement officials or private parties as we, in our sole discretion, believe necessary or appropriate to respond to claims and legal process (including but not limited to subpoenas), to protect the property and rights of Trakt or a third party, to protect the safety of the public or any person, or to prevent or stop any activity we may consider to be, or to pose a risk of being, illegal, unethical, inappropriate or legally actionable.
According to this, if a copyright holder sees users who are watching their show or movie obviously or even suspiciously illegally, then they can get a subpoena and Trakt will hand over everything they know about those users.
Pretty scary, right?
Is it as Bad as it Sounds?
When I first hear about this, thanks to an anonymous comment on KodiNews, I was a bit skeptical.
- If Trakt.tv was so dangerous for pirates to use, then why would the developers of these streaming add-ons build such tight integration with Trakt.tv?
- You could install the the Trakt.tv standalone add-on and then watch a movie that you purchased and ripped to your hard drive for personal use, Trakt.tv would just see that you watched that movie. Does it know where that movie was located? Does it know if it was acquired illegally or legitimately purchased? I tend to think it can’t know these answers, but I can see how it could possibly track the source path or URL of the video.
How to Protect Your Privacy When Using Trakt.tv
Whatever the answers to those previous questions, there is no doubt that there is a possible risk in using Trakt.tv. However, there are some ways to mitigate that risk. Here are some suggestions.
Set Your Trakt.tv Profile to Private
The easiest thing you can do is set your profile to Private. What that does is make it so your profile and viewing activity is not published to the public for any copyright holder to browse.
To set your Trakt.tv profile to private:
- Hover over your username in the top right corner
- Click on “Settings”
- At the top of the settings page is the Private check box. Check it and click Save.
Hide Your IP By Using a VPN
The above method of setting your profile to private is a good and simple step to do, but there’s still a potential for Trakt.tv handing over your information even though your activity was not published publicly. Even though it wasn’t public, Trakt.tv is still storing the data and that risk will still be there.
The best way to protect yourself is to use a VPN. What it does is tunnel all your traffic through a server somewhere else in the world, so Trakt.tv can’t see what your IP address is, but it would see some random IP of a data center where a VPN service is running. This is important in the event that your information is provided to a government or copyright holder because it would make your anonymous trakt.tv account truly anonymous by not allowing them to track where you are located.
If you want to give a VPN a try, I personally use and recommend IPVanish VPN.
Let’s Hear From You
It was a commenter like you that tipped me off to this topic in the first place, so please leave your comment. I’d love to hear from you.