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Court Ruling Could Force Search Engines to Track and Hand Over Private Data

A court ruling against TorrentSpy could create a dangerous precedent that would require other search engines and ISPs to create and store user data.

With privacy advocates already concerned that Google’s keeping data for 18 months, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pressing a California court to overturn a ruling that would make it a requirement for internet companies keep sensitive data and hand it over in a civil lawsuit.

The ruling came in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by motion picture studios against TorrentSpy, a popular search engine that indexes materials made publicly available via the Bit Torrent file sharing protocol. TorrentSpy has never logged its visitors’ Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Notwithstanding this explicit privacy policy, a federal magistrate judge has now ordered TorrentSpy to activate logging and turn the logged data over to the studios.

“This unprecedented ruling has implications well beyond the file sharing context,” EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry said.

The EFF makes a compelling case, arguing that the ruling could be interpreted as storing every keystroke entered on a computer.

The decision also threatens to radically increase the burdens that companies face in federal lawsuits, potentially forcing them to create and store an avalanche of data, including computer server logs, digital telephone conversations, and drafts of documents never saved or sent.

TorrentSpy is appealing the ruling.

  • http://www.lff.com Fitness guy

    I think it is wrong to download copyrighted material, but which is more wrong..the invasion of privacy or the piracy?

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Fitness – good point. But two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • http://www.thevanblog.com/ Steven Bradley

    Andy I agree. When you try to fight one wrong with another you actually help to justify the original wrong somewhat by the comparison. You also lose support for your case and create sympathy for those engaging in the original wrong.

  • http://www.westpalmsrealty.com Albert King Jr.

    I beleive that the invasion of privacy affects everyone that uses the internet. The infringement of copyright affects advertisers more than the general public.

  • http://rapidshare-search-files.com/ zakk

    its an obvious invasion of privacy.
    the ends don’t justify the means in this case.