Viacom Demands Private YouTube Data
"Court backs Viacom's demands for the handover of terabytes of YouTube log files and user data."
Viacom vs Google Legal Battle
Back in March 2007, media giant Viacom started up a legal battle with Google over copyright infringements on the then recently acquired YouTube. Viacom, owner of MTV and Paramount Pictures claimed at the time that it had identified in excess of 160,000 incidences of unauthorized used of their media on the site, totaling more than 1.5 billion views. Following the start of the lawsuit, YouTube took measures to improve copyright security on the site and prevent this problem as much as possible.
Now in a fairly shocking decision, the courts have backed Viacoms demand for a whopping 12 Terabytes of YouTube log files, documenting user log-in names, IP addresses and viewing habits. This decision has understandably been met with mixed views within the industry, with organisations such as the Electronics Frontier Foundation slating it as a gross breach of privacy rights:
"The Court's erroneous ruling is a set-back to privacy rights, and will allow Viacom to see what you are watching on YouTube.
"We urge Viacom to back off this overbroad request and Google to take all steps necessary to challenge this order and protect the rights of its users."
Google are obviously none too pleased either:
Google's senior litigation counsel Catherine Lacavera :
"We are disappointed the court granted Viacom's over-reaching demand for viewing history.
"We will ask Viacom to respect users' privacy and allow us to anonymise the logs before producing them under the court's order."
On the other side of the fence however, privacy experts are claiming that users are indeed at risk, and the blame rests firmly on Google's shoulders. Experts also rightly point out that despite Viacom's claims that the files they are demanding will not contain personally identifiable data, the contained IP addresses are potentially just as personal.
Mr Simon Davis to the BBC:
"The chickens have come home to roost for Google .... Their arrogance and refusal to listen to friendly advice has resulted in the privacy of tens of millions being placed under threat ..... Governments and organisations are realising that companies like Google have a warehouse full of data. And while that data is stored it is under threat of being used and putting privacy in danger."
Furthermore the court has also demanded the handing over of data pertaining as to the nature of all media removed from the site by YouTube, including reasons for doing so.
So should users be worried? Is this potentially the first of many handovers of private data due to what is essentially an issue of money? Head on over to the Forums
and tell us what you think.
Full article at the BBC is available HERE
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