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July 13, 2008 20:33 - YouTube Users Data Privacy Breach

As a result of Viacom's copyright infringement case against Google, a New York federal judge has ordered Google to turn over to Viacom a database of YouTube users which identifies every clip they have watched.

However, the order has raised concerns among users and privacy advocates, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), that the online video viewing habits of tens of millions of people could be exposed.

EFF's Kurt Opsahl said in a blog post...
"The court's order grants Viacom's request and erroneously ignores the protections of the federal Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), and threatens to expose deeply private information about what videos are watched by YouTube users. The VPPA passed after a newspaper disclosed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's video rental records. As Congress recognized, your selection of videos to watch is deeply personal and deserves the strongest protection."

Google's attorney also expressed worry over privacy protection saying, "We are disappointed the court granted Viacom's overreaching demand for viewing history," she said in a statement Thursday. "We will ask Viacom to respect users' privacy and allow us to anonymize the logs before producing them under the court's order."

Viacom's general counsel, Michael Fricklas, said the request to keep the information anonymous was under consideration.

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July 31, 2008 21:53 - ISPs Promise Not To Spy In FileSharing Crackdown

Internet service providers have pledged not to "spy" on the web habits of customers as part of an agreement with the UK government to punish illegal sharing of music and films.

Privacy fears had been raised after six of the UK's biggest ISPs agreed with the government, the music industry body the BPI and the Motion Picture Association to reduce illegal file sharing within three years.

The BPI said yesterday that there would be no policing by the ISPs or any "spying" because no personal information was gathered in identifying which internet addresses were file sharing. The BPI said the focus was on uploaders of illegal content.

As part of a memorandum of understanding signed by the ISPs, they have agreed to a three-month trial and send out 1,000 letters a week to subscribers identified by the BPI as having been engaged in illicit uploading or downloading of music.

In the meantime, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has launched a consultation to find out what would be the most appropriate measures to be taken against llegal uploaders/downloaders. The government has threatened to introduce legislation if progress was not made.

The BERR says that although the Government would prefer a fully voluntary approach, this is not feasible and needs regulatory backup after consultation. The consultation will look at measures for punishing offenders that could include blocking people from downloading certain materials or slowing their internet connection.

According to a report from Jupiter Research, 20% of European iPod owners buy digital music at least once a month, while 30% use file sharing networks to download music illegally at least once a month.

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