Switzerland Decides That It's Ok For Private Firm To Violate Your Privacy If It's Searching For 'Pirates'

from the unfortunate dept

Last year, Swiss officials told Logistep -- one of a few companies that tries to scan file sharing networks for IPs used by suspected copyright infringers -- that its efforts were an illegal violation of privacy rights. However, a new court ruling has overturned that original ruling, and has said that Logistep is perfectly legal. The court appears to have said that preventing piracy somehow trumps privacy rights -- which seems kind of odd. I'm actually not a huge fan of claims (or lawsuits) that such services violate privacy. I'm not entirely clear how your basic IP address is "private." It's "public" by default, in that your computer uses it publicly to identify itself, so I'm not clear how that's automatically seen as "private" info. However, it seems odd to claim that simply tracking unauthorized usage trumps privacy rights. If that's the case, you have no privacy rights at all, because officials could just claim that they're violating your privacy to prevent any crime you might be committing. So, while I think it's a bit silly to declare IP addresses private, if they are considered private then I have a hard time seeing why Logistep should be allowed to do what it does.
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Filed Under: file sharing, privacy, switzerland
Companies: logistep

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  1. icon
    nelsoncruz (profile), 6 Jun 2009 @ 11:21am

    Secretly gathering information is a privacy concern

    I would say that having a private company secretly gather information about what a person does online is a privacy concern. Hence all the controversy about tracking cookies, targeted advertising, google keeping search records, systems like Phorm, etc.

    And this Logistep company isn't just collecting anonymized usage info for statistical purposes, to offer other useful services to the people targeted, or to serve advertising to them. They are collecting this info with the aim of tracking down the persons involved and using it against them!

    Imagine a company joining public chat rooms to indiscrimately record everything said and the respective IP addresses with the intent of selling it to others who might want to sue somebody for libel and defamation.

    Some information can be publicly available and still be protected as private. Phone numbers and addresses are often published on "phone books". That doesn't mean companies can collect all that info and use as they wish. Here in europe the law says a company must ask a person's permission before they transmit personal info they have collected to third parties. A person also has the right to contact any company and ask them to correct or delete any personal info it might have about them.

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