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Pattaya Daily News

04 July 2008 :: 14:07:39 pm 29085

Google Ordered To Reveal Youtube Users Viewing Habits

In an ominous development, severely infringing on civil liberties, Google, the world?s leading search-engine provider, was ordered by a US court, yesterday, July 3, 2008 to reveal the viewing habits of every user who has ever watched any video on YouTube. The news resulted in an almost outcry from privacy advocates in this?$1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit over video piracy.
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This action is a direct result of Google’s legal battle with Viacom, owners of MTV and Paramount Pictures, which has alleged that YouTube is guilty of massive copyright infringement. As evidence presented in court in March at the start of the case, earlier this yaer, Viacom alleged it had identified around 160,000 unauthorised clips of its programmes on the website, which had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

The ruling will see the viewing habits of millions of YouTube users given to Viacom, effectively more than 12 terabytes of data. The information to be disclosed includes users’ log-in ID of, the computer IP address and video clip details. Initially, these personal details will only relate to the US, but it is thought that this ruling will soon be extended worldwide.

Privacy activists from the Digital rights group, Electronic Frontier Foundation, said yesterday the order by Judge Louis Stanton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York “threatens to expose deeply private information”, calling the court order a “set-back to privacy rights”, which violated the 1988Video Privacy Protection Act.

Viacom’s response was that it needs the data to demonstrate video piracy patterns, in its case against YouTube. However, the company sought to play down privacy fears, maintaining it had no interest in identifying individual users. Following the launch of its billion-dollar lawsuit, YouTube introduced filtering tools in an effort to prevent copyright materials from appearing on the site.

Privacy expert, Simon Davies, alleged about Google that “Their arrogance and refusal to listen to friendly advice has resulted in the privacy of tens of millions being placed under threat.” Apparently, privacy campaigners had warned Google for years that IP addresses were personally identifiable data.

The Internet currently is effectively haphazardly controlled, but when its successor, the Grid, comes online in the near future, linking virtually every computer on the planet, the scope for total infringement of privacy will be a major hazard.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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