Court Says File Sharers Have No Right To Anonymity... Mostly

from the with-a-little-exception dept

Thomas O'Toole alerts us to a recent ruling highlighting the rather unsurprising fact that file sharers can't hide behind a First Amendment anonymity claim to prevent an ISP from handing over their info. While I'm a big supporter of US courts properly recognizing that the First Amendment protects sites from being compelled to reveal anonymous commenters, this lawsuit definitely seemed like a huge stretch. However, O'Toole does note that this appeals court ruling did make one important correction to the lower court's magistrate judge, who had claimed that simply by putting files on a file sharing site, users had given up anonymity:
Lastly, as precedents have advised us, the Doe Defendants have a minimal expectation of privacy, especially when they allegedly engaged in P2P network sharing. Conceptually, the notion of allowing others to have access to one's database by virtue of the Internet in order to pluck from a computer information and data that the computer owner or user wishes to share renders void any pretext of privacy.
But that makes little sense, of course. Thankfully, the appeals court pointed that out:
The privacy claimed here is not for the information that the computer owner or user wishes to share but rather for his or her identity.
Indeed. Sharing data doesn't mean you are sharing your identity. Of course, that fine point didn't matter in the larger context of the ruling, but it's still a good point to raise.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    slander (profile), Apr 30th, 2010 @ 6:19pm

    Court Says File Sharers Have No Rights


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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2010 @ 7:12pm

    The govt wants to pass a bunch of internet "privacy" laws. Do any of them prevent ISP's from handing over information without due process? Or are they all simply going to seek to prevent people from communicating their identity, opinions, and other personal or career information, products they sell, and services they offer (ie: computer technician) that they wish to communicate either to friends, family, or the general public.

    The government pretends that it wants to act in the public interest with respect to the Internet but if it were really concerned with the public interest it would fix all the broken laws that exist outside the Internet. It wouldn't grant monopolies on cablecos/telcos/internetco infrastructure and monopolies on who can build new infrastructure and it wouldn't grant monopolies on both the cableco infrastructure and public airwaves and on the content (ie: copy restrictions, or more inaccurately known as copyright laws) distributed through those communication mediums. Not only does the government grant a monopoly on the information distribution platforms outside the Internet but it also grants a monopoly on the content provided on those platforms. The government clearly has no intention of serving the public good, if it did it would first seek to fix all the broken laws already in existence (ie: copy restriction length) before seeking to create new laws.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2010 @ 7:36pm

    Lobbyists shouldn't have anonymity...

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

  4. icon
    bZirk (profile), May 1st, 2010 @ 6:43am


    I wonder who could bring that suit?

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

  5. identicon
    Bengie, May 1st, 2010 @ 7:03am


    Lobbyists from Corps or Lobbyists from interest groups for Corps should have donation/income caps from anyone by the Corps.

    I agree Corps do need to by able to Lobby, but they should not be able to influence the creation of ANY LAWS that reduce the current protections and rights of actual people.

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

  6. icon
    btrussell (profile), May 1st, 2010 @ 8:02am

    I use P2P all the time.
    I share a file, not a folder, not my name...

    To say I have no privacy rights because I choose to help the Linux community by seeding distros is pure BS.

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

  7. identicon
    etheone, May 1st, 2010 @ 9:41am

    Courts ruled right

    The judgement, in my opinion, was right.

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

  8. icon
    Chargone (profile), May 1st, 2010 @ 5:42pm


    thus the correction, if i'm understanding this correctly.

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

  9. identicon
    ant anti mike, May 2nd, 2010 @ 8:51am

    haha only maters in the USA

    see what they have to do is slowly pass lil tidbits of the acta laws little at a time so when it gets signed into law you already have the laws and they can go see its already like this

    P.S. @7 fuck lawyers , fuck judges fuck you, fuck you cat.

    BOMB the BOATS and feed the fucking flesh to the fish

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

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