Norway Decides Privacy Is More Important Than Protecting The Entertainment Industry's Business Model

from the good-for-them dept

It appears that Norway has decided that it's sick of passing laws designed to prop up obsolete industry business models at the expense of individual privacy. First, the country started telling ISPs to delete log files after just three weeks (making it pretty hard to identify individual filesharers), and now it's refused to renew the license given to the one law firm allowed to sniff IP addresses in trying to seek out unauthorized file sharing. Apparently there's been a bit of a debate about the license, with concerns about potential privacy violations. I have to admit that I'm not sure this makes much sense to me. I still have trouble understanding the European point of view that an IP address -- which your computer more or less needs to share publicly with other computers is somehow "private information." However, that's the way many European countries view it, and so such snooping is a potential privacy violation. Effectively, the country has decided that privacy rights are more important than the entertainment industry's old business model.


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  1.  
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    hikarius (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 7:43pm

    I'm glad to see that at least one country on the planet cares about privacy.

     

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  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 7:45pm

    Finally!

    I always knew that the USA would come around to standing up for the right to privacy. USA! US... wait, what now?

    N-OR-WAY! N-OR-WAY!

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 7:46pm

    BRAVO!

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:11pm

    The Europeans generally have a very, very strict sense of privacy. It is shocking that the governments haven't outlaws phone numbers and business cards, both of which can impart personal information without your permission.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:31pm

    Note to self: move to Norway.

     

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  6.  
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    yourrealname (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:41pm

    Awesome

    Hopefully this will mean more true black metal on the p2p networks!

     

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  7.  
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    Big Al, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 9:08pm

    Not outlawing phone numbers, but not allowing just anyone to snoop through your phone records, or follow your car for days on end, or trace all your snail-mail...
    Get the picture?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 9:45pm

    woo a country with common seance. I thought everyone in the world lost it.

     

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  9.  
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    lavi d (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 9:46pm

    All I Know About Norway

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 9:53pm

    Why an IP address is private information

    You probably consider your home street address to be private information yet you probably live on a public street, you should include your return address on a letter too. You probably consider your cell phone number private but yet your phone connects to a public network, thanks to caller-id your phone number is shared with everyone you call. Your IP address is private info in the same way that your home address and telephone number are private info.

    According to the linked article the snooping 'enables the outfit to monitor alleged pirates and collect their IP addresses'. Monitoring sounds like a lot more than just collecting IP addresses, more like a wire tap.

    Say I have an ad somewhere advertising my cell phone number and home address with an offer of free mp3s. Should a law firm that represents the recording industry be able to tap my phone or monitor who comes and goes from my house? I think not. Collecting info about me by responding to my ad is one thing, collecting the phone numbers and addresses of everyone else I connect with crosses the line. I'd say that using certain p2p software that advertises your IP address is about the same as advertising any other private info. Norway has it right.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 10:14pm

    I agree that it's not knowing "what your IP is" that's the privacy issue. It's the "The guy with this IP shared this and that" that's the privacy issue.

     

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  12.  
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    Jacques, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 10:21pm

    Privacy is not the same as secrecy

    Your name, your street address, or your phone number may not be secret, but they are - and should be- protected as personally identifiable information because you should be able to control in which context it is seen. Your name and address may be public information when they are in the phone book, but you may not want them on a list of users of Prozac or visitors to a cross-dressing web site.
    When the Nazis asked the Jews to register, some of them probably thought that it was not infringing on their privacy since anybody could see them going into or coming out of the synagog.

     

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  13.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 10:44pm

    Re: Why an IP address is private information

    You probably consider your home street address to be private information yet you probably live on a public street, you should include your return address on a letter too. You probably consider your cell phone number private but yet your phone connects to a public network, thanks to caller-id your phone number is shared with everyone you call. Your IP address is private info in the same way that your home address and telephone number are private info.

    No, I consider all that info public, because it is.

    What's private is the connection between that info and who it belongs to. Same with an IP address. But the IP address itself isn't private.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 11:10pm

    Re: Re: Why an IP address is private information

    Really? Then feel free to post your home address and phone number here in the comments. Its public information, why not?

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 11:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Why an IP address is private information

    Mike, is that you?

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 11:28pm

    Cash 4 Gold

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 11:49pm

    This makes sense. Why isn't it available to US Citizens?

    Oh, right- Patriot Act. That Act which keeps Americans Employed so they can be good little Consumers, and send their livelihood in the form of money to China (via the WalMart Express) and in their off time, they can yell at Indians about discrepancies with their Bank Statement.

    Good call. Until Americans aren't employed anymore.

     

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  18.  
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    Azrael (profile), Jun 25th, 2009 @ 1:25am

    Re: Awesome

    There's a LOT of true black metal if you know where to look for it. Hint - it's not on torrents.

     

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  19.  
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    Sverre, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 2:43am

    Norwegian privacy laws

    It isn't the reading of IP addresses itself that requires a license. That is of course publicly available information. It is the systematic logging and storage of IP addresses and third party traffic to be permissible as evidence that requires a license in Norway.

    Anybody can find your name and address, but everyone isn't allowed to keep a database of every address you receive letters from for the purpose of potential evidence.

     

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  20.  
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    Alex_G, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 2:47am

    The fight is _not_ over

    The government has actually recommended to overrule this decision, so nothing is for certain yet... Norway is _not_ as
    great as you think it is...

    (In norwegian) http://www.dagbladet.no/2009/06/23/kultur/fildeling/teknio/trond_giske/6860130/

     

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  21.  
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    Jan, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 3:16am

    What is privacy?

    >>>which your computer more or less needs to share publicly with other computers is somehow "private information."

    Your computer does not need to share IP publicly - your computer needs to share it with those you want to connect to - that is not the same. It would be like saying that your private phone number is public because you called someone.

    Private info is not the info you don't tell anyone - it's info that you have some (morall?) right to have under controll so you should be the one who gets to decide who can use it. Like private number - the fact that you call someone does not mean that everybody has right to know your private phone number without your consent.

     

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  22.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jun 25th, 2009 @ 4:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Why an IP address is private information

    What's private is the connection between that info and who it belongs to.

    So, using reading comprehension, if the thinks the connection between public data, like an IP address or phone number, and the actual owner of that data is private, then why would you ask him to make the connection?

    He *just* said that knowing which number goes with which person is private data.

    Sheesh.

     

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  23.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jun 25th, 2009 @ 4:52am

    Re:

    Spain would be a better bet, I think.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 5:21am

    The european view is that your IP is like your home adress I can give it to you to send me my new toaster but if you want to use it for anything else ( send me new offers, resell to some else ... ) you must ask me permission, or have a license to do it.

     

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  25.  
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    Kazi, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 6:35am

    Maybe "private information" is the inappropiate term and should be "identification information".

    In general, any information that can identify my personal habits - whether online or offline - should be considered personal information and "identification information".

    In other words, if you can figure out using the information who I am, directly or indirectly, it is private information.

    License numbers, social security numbers, IP addresses (especially static ones), home addresses, PO boxes, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, etc are all "identification information" that falls in the "personal information" because if I don't share it with you I don't want you to have it to identify me. It doesn't matter to me whether certain "identification information" is more sensitive that other information.

     

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  26.  
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    Morten, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 7:37am

    A further issue was that the lawyer went to the ISP with the IP addresses and demanded personal details of the ISP customer behind each IP. The ISP refused and this is now in court. This will be settled next year (probably) with a new Norwegian copyright law. No idea which way, but the government seems kind of industry friendly on this issue.

     

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  27.  
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    IAmTheLaw, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 8:34am

    it seems people dont quite get that Norway just like ALL THE OTHER EU Countries signed up to the EC, are under legal obligation to conform to, and write or amend were needed, their country laws to mirror the EU "ARTICLE 29 DATA PROTECTION WORKING PARTY" directives.

    that is all the Norwegian court judges has done in effect, followed the EU ARTICLE 29 directives they signed up to abide by, ALL the other EU countries and all the way up to their collective highest court can use this case law now.

    ARTICLE 29 DATA PROTECTION WORKING PARTY" directives. restating IP addresses are here it says in part...

    "it re-emphasises its earlier Opinion17 that unless the service provider “is in a position to distinguish with absolute certainty that the data correspond to users that cannot be identified, it will have to treat all IP information as personal data, to be on the safe side".

    IP addresses relate to identifiable persons in most cases. Identifiability means identifiable by the access provider or by other means, with the help of additional identifiers such as cookies or in interactions with internet services with which the data subject is identified explicitly or implicitly.

    Recital 26 of the Data Protection Directive clearly specifies that to determine if a person is
    identifiable, “account should be taken of all the means likely reasonably to be used either by the controller or by any other person to identify the said person”.

    The definition of personal data in the Data Protection Directive refers to data ‘relating’ to a
    person, and IP addresses are commonly used to distinguish between users to whom should be
    applied a different treatment for example in the context of targeted advertisement serving or
    profile creation....."
    http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/fsj/privacy/docs/wpdocs/2009/wp159_en.pdf

    you can keep upto day on the latest posted PDF directives in all the EU languages here....

     

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  28.  
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    IAmTheLaw, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 8:51am

    opps, missed the url
    you can keep upto date on the latest posted PDF directives in all the EU languages here....

    http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/fsj/privacy/workinggroup/wpdocs/2009_en.htm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Will, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Why an IP address is private information

    You missed the point. The fact that someone's ip address without any names or addresses attached to it is somewhat useless, just like a home address without knowing who lives there. Mike believes that the connection to figuring out what that person's name is, is important and private.

     

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  30.  
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    Joseph Young, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Why an IP address is private information

    Mike Masnick wrote:

    What's private is the connection between that info and who it belongs to. Same with an IP address. But the IP address itself isn't private.

    Would you be prepared to put the IP addresses used to post Techdirt readers’ comments in the comments’ bylines, along side the name and time, at least for those comments not submitted using a profile?

    In the US, much consideration is given to free speech. This goes beyond unnecessary limitations on what may be said and includes anonymous free speech. The view taken is that an inability to remain anonymous can impact on one’s ability to speak freely. The same argument can be used for freedom of action.

    Information technology allows more actions to be recorded in more detail and held, potentially, indefinitely. The European Union’s data protection directives, if anything, are about preserving freedom of action. It’s at the heart of EU concerns over behavioural targeting. If I visit a dozen different websites, it’s acceptable for each website to record my use. It isn’t acceptable for them to pool their information, to cross check IP addresses and build up a profile that no single website could have.

    Jacques, I think it’s a cultural thing. I’ve never got my head around hearing Steve Rambam say [twelve minutes in] that there is an accessible database containing the subscribers to POZ, a magazine for people who are HIV positive. In the EU that wouldn’t just be personal data, that would be sensitive personal data – the top secret of personal data. What are they doing distributing it? I’m rather hoping someone will tell me that what Rambam said is false.

    The degree to which data are protected is, in many ways, arbitrary, just as when it comes to protecting intellectual property rights. The EU has decided that greater restrictions on personal data result in a better quality of life.

     

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  31.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 25th, 2009 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Why an IP address is private information

    Really? Then feel free to post your home address and phone number here in the comments. Its public information, why not?

    Uh, which part of "What's private is the connection between that info and who it belongs to" did you not understand?

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why an IP address is private information

    I think we are saying the same thing in different ways. Apparently my subject line needs some work, but for the rest of I was referring to YOUR address, phone number and IP address - those belonging to/associated with YOU.

    Sounds to me like the license in question was for 'monitoring' your IP address. Monitoring is not well defined, if that includes sniffing your traffic then a lot more than just IP address info would be available - like data that ties an IP address to you, data that ties the IP addresses of others you connect with to the people behind the addresses.

     

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  33.  
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    Small guy, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 2:03am

    I hope Norway really does decide to protect privacy.

    Big 'ol entertainment industry should wisen up.
    - Stop making hugely expensive dull movies that weve seen before a bunch of time and that fewer people feel compelled to watch.
    - Stop blaming a small % p2p users for loss of revenues and spending huge amounts trying to catch them when its not the real problem

    If you can't make decent movies at reasonable consumer prices then don't bother.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Mike, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 6:49am

    I adore this cycle. Not only do these entertainment companies think it is ok to break the law to ATTEMPT to find people they SUSPECT may be illegally downloading their movies...They also spit in the face of the same data protection policies that they are upset about having being broken. Although many people use the word 'irony' incorrectly, this example may present a pretty accurate definition.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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