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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Comments on “Norway Decides Privacy Is More Important Than Protecting The Entertainment Industry's Business Model”

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34 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

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.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

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.

Will says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

Joseph Young says:

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.

Jacques says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Sverre (user link) says:

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.

Jan says:

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.

Kazi says:

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.

IAmTheLaw says:

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….

Small guy says:

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.

Mike says:

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.

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