EU Court Of Justice Says ISPs Can Be Forced To Reveal Info On Accused Infringement

from the no-privacy-violations dept

A few years ago, we wrote about how Swedish ISP ePhone was refusing to hand over info on its subscribers who were accused of infringement, arguing that the country’s IPRED (IP enforcement) law was in violation of EU law. That case bounced around the Swedish courts before hitting the EU Court of Justice, who recently decided that it is perfectly reasonable for ISPs to be ordered to hand over customer info — if certain specific conditions are met to keep it in-line with the EU data retention rules.

While perhaps somewhat unfortunate from a privacy perspective, I don’t actually find the ruling to be that surprising, and the impact is not all that far-reaching. It’s pretty well-established that companies can be compelled to give up private info on people as part of a legal dispute. The larger concern should be over the standard of evidence required before such info is handed over (and also whether or not the accused has the opportunity to anonymously fight the release of info, should he or she believe that the release would be in error). The EU Court of Justice has had some good rulings lately, pushing back on copyright maximalism, but this particular ruling isn’t really all that surprising, given the details. In fact, the full ruling suggests that it was tackling a very narrow question that really changes little. It doesn’t even say that such info should always be given up — just that, if certain conditions are met, it could be legal to require ISPs to hand it over.

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Companies: ephone

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Comments on “EU Court Of Justice Says ISPs Can Be Forced To Reveal Info On Accused Infringement”

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Anonymous Coward says:

good old United States of EU! this shitting on peoples rights to privacy and more is spreading fast. wont be long before the people are watched every second of every day, regardless of where they are or what they are doing. the entertainment industries will be running the world with just governments operating as ‘the front men’. where they will fall over is that because of the very restrictions they are bribing governments to implement, no one will be able to go anywhere, do anything, buy anything or even have anything. sounds like a very nice world that’s being created

Anonymous Coward says:

am still trying to understand how they will be able to differentiate between customer info and infringer info? are customers going to be held liable for any and all downloads through their accounts now, even though it isn’t a legal requirement to have secured internet access to prevent someone else from using the connection? (car owners dont get taken to court if their vehicle is used in a robbery, are they?) what about those that dont know how to secure their connection?

Anonymous Coward says:

More sour grapes Mike. How come when a ruling go against your world view, it always seems to have an little qualifier like “he full ruling suggests that it was tackling a very narrow question”, yet the same ruling in the other direction would be a widespread victory for free speech?

I mean, be a dick, but try to show SOME of that balance you were talking about the other day.

Anonymous Coward says:


Would this be the same balance that you seem to show? Or should I go and grab a quote from the iiNet ruling the other day? Where I believe you (or another AC who shares a similar mindset) essentially said, “Well, I guess we’ll have to have the laws changed to suit what we want them to and to make others do as we say.” (That’s obviously not an exact quote, but that’s the exact sentiment expressed.)

It’s funny. Because what you rag on Mike about you’re more than guilty of yourself. More so actually. You’re all about law and order, til the law sides against you. Then it’s “well, we’ll just see about this”.

How about you show balance first, then talk to Mike about doing the same?

As far as being a dick goes, well… we don’t expect you to give that up anytime soon. So keep on keepin’ on as the saying goes. But do try and realize how hypocritical you’re being.

Tor (profile) says:

“decided that it is perfectly reasonable for ISPs to be ordered to hand over customer info — if certain specific conditions are met to keep it in-line with the EU data retention rules”

I believe those specific conditions are set out in other directives — not the EU data retention directive. The data retention directive quite explicitly states that data stored for the purpose of that directive can only be handed out to competent authorities – not private parties. Now if the data was stored in a database that was not mandated by the data retention directive, then it’s another story.

It’s not entirely clear to me how one should reconcile this verdict with the earlier suggested verdict by the advocate general. Specifically point 60:

“For the disclosure of personal data to be possible, EU law requires that an obligation to retain data be provided for in national law, in order to specify the types of data to be retained, the purposes of retaining the data, the period of retention and the persons with access to said data. It would be contrary to the principles of the protection of personal data to make use of databases that exist for purposes other than those thus defined by the legislature.

There is no law in Sweden that says that IP address logs should be retained for the purpose of being used in civil suits. This verdict doesn’t really seem to explicitly contradict the statement of the advocate general. I wonder if that’s because the court disagrees, agrees but didn’t find it relevant in its answer to the questions, or if I have misunderstood something (I’m not a lawyer after all).

Anonymous Coward says:


No, the question isn’t a personal attack on Mike. It’s a simple question: Why does he couch any judgement he doesn’t like as either stupid or “narrow”, and praise everyone he likes as “intelligent” and “wide ranging” or “wide in scope”?

I know it’s an opinion blog, but it shows a big lack of balance, which in turn makes it possible for people to attack personally.

So, without getting personal about it, why do you think this is?

John Fenderson (profile) says:


So, without getting personal about it, why do you think this is?

Nice trick there — couching a personal comment as a question and demanding a nonpersonal answer to it. Let’s say your assertion is true for the sake of argument. My question to you is…

Why does his motivation matter? If someone’s saying something you disagree with, just say so and give us a counterargument. In terms of discussing an issue, it doesn’t matter why anyone makes the arguments they do. Just rebut the arguments.

What you’re doing isn’t engaging in any kind of rational discussion. What you’re doing is trying to convince people that what Mike says should be disregarded out of hand because he doesn’t have “balance”. That is not just a logical fallacy, but also a straight-up personal attack.

By the way, none of us, you included, have “balanced” opinions (expect where our opinion is “I’m not sure”) and there is no such thing as a “balanced” opinion forum. To seek balance is a fool’s errand. Better to look at the reasoning by which a person arrived at their opinion.

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