There’s bad news today for privacy advocates with Wired.com reporting that a judge is ordering YouTube to provide Viacom with the hsitory of all of their users. They say, “Google will have to turn over every record of every video watched by YouTube users, including users’ names and IP addresses.” This is in regards to that lawsuit that Viacom filed against Google back in March last year for $1 billion over damages for copyright infringement.
In the past Google has been pretty good about fighting for the privacy of their users, and in this situation they said that turning over the required data would be invading on their users’ privacy, but the judge essentially said “too bad.” The logs of information are contained on four tera-byte hard drives which Google must hand over to Viacom. Google will also have to provide Viacom with a list of all of the videos ever removed from YouTube for any reason.
Now why on Earth would Viacom want all of the data of YouTube users? Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch says the Judge presiding over this, Judge Stanton is “a moron” because turning over this information will allow Viacom to sue those who have watched copyrighted content. Did you get that, those who have simply watched, and not uploaded the content, could get sued. I don’t know about you, but I could have easily watched a copyrighted clip without even know that it was illegal. How are we supposed to keep track of every legal and illegal video on YouTube?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, as you can imagine, isn’t too happy about this. They posted about the ruling already and said, “The Court’s erroneous ruling is a set-back to privacy rights, and will allow Viacom to see what you are watching on YouTube. We urge Viacom to back off this overbroad request and Google to take all steps necessary to challenge this order and protect the rights of its users.” At this point it looks like it’s up to Google to take some serious steps to protect the privacy of their users, otherwise we could see users fighting back with a class-action lawsuit.