Emerging Technology

US courts demand data on YouTube users

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Google has been ordered to supply its opponent in a $1 billion copyright suit, Viacom, with data that could identify visitors to its video site YouTube, the New York Times reports.

Google has been ordered to supply its opponent in a $1 billion copyright suit, Viacom, with data that could identify visitors to its video site YouTube, the New York Times reports.

Viacom owns the copyright to various TV shows and movies, and is suing Google for what it alleges are breaches of that copyright by allow clips from them to appear on YouTube.

To support its case, Viacom asked the US Federal Court to order Google to give up the login name and IP address of every user who has watched a video on YouTube. On Wednesday, the court agreed.

Viacom says it will only use the information to pursue its case against Google, and both have said they will take measures to ensure the anonymity of YouTube users is preserved.

Even so, the move has triggered a wave of protests from privacy groups and internet user advocates concerned that it may be used as a precedent to support further privacy breaches.

Some groups have been arguing for some time that Google should protect the IP address information it has more closely to ensure privacy is maintained. Google has previously rejected those demands on the basis that IP addresses can’t be used in that way, but in this case it attempted to argue that YouTube data should be kept from Viacom precisely for that reason.

“It is an ‘I told you so’ moment,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told the New York Times.

 

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