Court Tells TorrentSpy It Needs To Spy On Users

from the but-why? dept

Popular BitTorrent search engine TorrentSpy was told by a federal judge on May 29th that it needed to keep log files of user activity on its site, even if there was no business reason for it. TorrentSpy is nothing more than a specialized search engine, but the entertainment industry wants to paint it as something worse. This latest ruling comes out of a lawsuit between TorrentSpy and the MPAA over the legality of TorrentSpy’s search engine. However, the ruling really is extraordinary in many ways. Rather than asking a company to hand over previous records, the court is actually asking TorrentSpy to purposely create new records that it has no need for and hand them over to a private party (the MPAA). What’s worse is that this directly contradicts TorrentSpy’s own privacy policy — so obeying the court order would open them up additional legal trouble. TorrentSpy hasn’t started spying on users and is appealing the ruling instead (and its lawyer suggests the site would sooner shut down than follow the court order). Hopefully, the appeals court will recognize that requiring a site to specifically create new records (in violation of its own policies) and then handing them over to another entity in an ongoing trial is not a good idea.


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Comments on “Court Tells TorrentSpy It Needs To Spy On Users”

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46 Comments
The infamous Joe says:

Story

RIAA: Judge, we don’t have the evidence we need to win the case. By the way, we found a new car lying about, we left it in your driveway.

Judge: Hmm.. well, the only logical thing for me to do is have TorrentSpy gather evidence for you, to help you win your case. I shall decree it!

RIAA: The keys are in the visor.

DontpileonMe says:

No Story Here

Quote from Mike

“However, the ruling really is extraordinary in many ways. Rather than asking a company to hand over previous records, the court is actually asking TorrentSpy to purposely create new records that it has no need for and hand them over to a private party (the MPAA). What’s worse is that this directly contradicts TorrentSpy’s own privacy policy — so obeying the court order would open them up additional legal trouble.”

Mike you are seriously limited in your knowledge of the law. This is not extraordinary- it is called and investigation or discovery. And all the time information is handed over to a “private party”. All the time the courts compel me as an employer to divulge confidential payroll information about my employees for lawsuits like divorces, car crashes and lost wages, etc (all private parties). A judge can ask for old info and also require future info to be tracked and reported that I don’t currently track. Heck, a judge can even supeona me and not pay me as an expert witness to testify about things like “likelyhood of continuing and ongoing employment”.

Secondly, if TorrentSpy has a privacy agreement that says if will never divulge any future or past info to the courts than it is an illegal agreement and cannot be enforced. And furthermore, if a court orders me or TorrentSpy to do something like this there is no further liability to me from following the court order.

anotherperson says:

Re: No Story Here

HAHA! You just contradicted yourself in the second paragraph. I agree with the person that posted below you, also, it isn’t being handed over to the courts, the courts are ordering it be handed over to another private party, which is perfectly within the bounds of the law to have in their privacy poilcy. I think you probably just work for the MPAA and are trying to get everyone on your side…and failing miserably.

ReallyEvilCanine says:

Re: No Story Here

All the time the courts compel me as an employer to divulge confidential payroll information about my employees for lawsuits like divorces, car crashes and lost wages, etc (all private parties). A judge can ask for old info and also require future info to be tracked and reported that I don’t currently track. Heck, a judge can even supeona me and not pay me as an expert witness to testify about things like “likelyhood of continuing and ongoing employment”.

ReallyEvilCanine (profile) says:

Re: No Story Here

Mike you are seriously limited in your knowledge of the law.

As are you, DontpileonMe.

All the time the courts compel me as an employer to divulge confidential payroll information about my employees for lawsuits like divorces, car crashes and lost wages, etc.

Because as the employer, you’re party to the dispute in that you employ a person and can verify such confidential information. You could also send a secretary or HR person on your behalf as long as that person also has routine access to that information.

A judge can ask for old info and also require future info to be tracked and reported that I don’t currently track.

He can ask but he’ll have a hard time compelling you to do so simply at whim.

Heck, a judge can even supeona me and not pay me as an expert witness to testify about things like “likelyhood of continuing and ongoing employment”.

Only if you’re party to the case at hand. Otherwise Stallman and Lessing and a load of others would spend every waking moment testifying in courts around the US under subpoena.

Sokol says:

Re: No Story Here

Your argument is flawed, and I suggest re-reading the post. You do payroll and already collect the data. This is a case of no data being collected. To put it in terms for you, imagine the government coming to you and asking for detailed information on the shopping habbits of your employee’s, or information on what they spend their pay on. Again information you would not keep track of.

~Sokol

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No Story Here

Too bad the user’s aren’t TorrentSpy’s employee’s. And depending on the contracts and laws of that state, an employer might not have to divulge that information. A company doesn’t have to track their customer’s and a judge shouldn’t be allowed to make them do so.

Beyond that, telling someone that they need to keep a record of their RAM is purely ridiculous.

Anonymous Coward says:

It should also be noted that Torrentspy is based in the Netherland, so like in the Spamhaus case, the US has no real jurisdiction over them. Why Torrentspy even allowed this suit to go forward in a US court is something I still don’t understand (perhaps someone can explain). As far as I can tel, the best I think the court could do in this case is threatened to have them blocked in the US (and Torrentspy would likely just block US site rather than shut down totally) or perhaps try to get ICANN to revoke their domain name (and they’d just move and set up shop on another domain), and then hope they could find a Netherland or EU court sympathetic to the MPAA cause to help enforce the edict.

Can you say communism? says:

Big Brother

The court is “asking” a company to break its own policies, so the goverment can “spy” even more on its own citizens. Is this part of the patriot act? Think about this quote everytime an amendment is attached to the constitution or the constitution is changed, “A Great Civilization is destroyed from within, not from without”.

Sanguine Dream says:

Then maybe...

This sounds like an attempt to go on a fishing expedition.


The court is “asking” a company to break its own policies, so the goverment can “spy” even more on its own citizens.

What really scares me is that the court isn’t doing this so the government (that is scary enough) can spy TorrentSpy users, the court is doing this so that a non-government organiztion can spy on TorrentSpy users. And just what do you think the RIAA will do once they find out about this?

Larry Cuttill says:

Stop buying movies and cd's

Americans don’t ban together and boycott so until we
do can’t complain. I will NOT buy any movie or music cd
Both industries knew about the technology upcomming
neither did anything to protect their interests. They just
holler for new laws and lawsuits. They need to spend their money finding ways to protect their interests be responsible
to their clients. Stop making new laws and stop run around suing kids.
This is not the same America I grew up in
Its been bought and paid for by all these large fucking corporations and war mungers.

Larry Cuttill says:

Stop buying movies and cd's

Americans don’t ban together and boycott so until we
do can’t complain. I will NOT buy any movie or music cd
Both industries knew about the technology upcomming
neither did anything to protect their interests. They just
holler for new laws and lawsuits. They need to spend their money finding ways to protect their interests be responsible
to their clients. Stop making new laws and stop run around suing kids.
This is not the same America I grew up in
Its been bought and paid for by all these large fucking corporations and war mungers.

reed says:

Re: Big nukes, LOL

“The USA is a big country with nukes. The Netherlands is a little country. When push comes to shove, Hitler ran over the Netherlands like a hot knife through butter. “

I can see it now, MPA and the RIAA along with the DMCA will force our hand and make us start World War 3. Kill em all before they can copy our music and media!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

yeah right… the US is gonna nuke them down… till they hand out their records…

They don’t hafta nuke ’em. They just tell a few well placed Netherlands govt. officials “Gee, you know it’d be a real shame if you was to somehow disappear. By the way, have you heard the talk about our CIA having some kind of secret global prison system?”

Anonymous Coward says:

What Torrent Spy should do is conform to the judges order. Since the data in RAM is the information that’s wanted then the RAM memory should be the only thing provided.

No additional “logs” should be created that make this information human readable. Since it has been declared that the information is in the memory “for about six hours” then perhaps Torret Spy only needs to copy the existing RAM as it is once every 3 to 4 hours with no formatting or filtering since the data in RAM isn’t formatted or filtered. A straight memcopy should suffice.

If you have to comply with insane orders like this then you should comply to the fullest letter of the order.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

Forget an engineering degree or the the TorrentSpy privacy policy, she should have a lerge tome of EU law dropped on her head from a great hieght. TorrentSpy logs are under Dutch juristiction, and so EU law applies. I very much doubt that TorrentSpy is allowed to hand over thier RAM logs, or any otehr user data, to the US courts, and they are certainly not allowed to violate their privacy policy to hand over data to an US corporation. Hell, under EU law the restrictions on handing data over to a US arm of that same company are very restricitve, for privacy reasons.

Estufa1 says:

U.S.Court ruling on TorrentSpy

I cannot believe that in this “free” country our government is trying to support private industry by taking away one of our most precious freedoms; that of using the airways to freely surf the internet. What are they thinking? Our legislature screams Freedoms of our Forefathers, yet at every turn, hits us with blatant theft of our basic freedoms. It wasn’t bad enough they took away our freedom to spend our own hard earned money in our chosen ways by prohibiting offshore internet gambling, now they want to have us spied on by our own chosen search engines. Time to STOP this blatantly communistic activity. Let’s bring back our government of, by, and for the people!

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