British ISPs granted delay in anti-piracy court battle

By Mike Fischer on
A top UK broadband provider has been granted a delay in its fight against releasing users' personal data to copyright groups. British Telecom (BT) sought the adjournment to give the court time to consider the case at hand and render a proper decision. The ISP challenged anti-P2P groups saying that accusations of illegal file sharing needs to have "some basis" and that blindly releasing user data undermines subscriber confidence and causes "unnecessary worry" for British consumers.

Concern in the UK is high after last month's leak involving PlusNet, another British ISP, where unencrypted user data was released. Customer names and addresses were matched with pornographic content that was allegedly downloaded by subscribers. The data was found in an email from ACS Law, one of the UK's top anti-file sharing firms, which seeks to use the IPs to target and prosecute users who downloaded content illegally. An investigation is already underway to determine if ACS Law's security (or lack thereof) was at fault for the leak. Furthermore, a coordinated legal response has been launched by consumers who feel the firm has wrongly targeted them as copyright violators, an action that could be classified as harassment.

Obviously BT and PlusNet want to put the concerns of their subscribers to rest. The UK Guardian reported, "Most, if not all, of the internet service providers served with court orders brought by ACS:Law have now said they will challenge the obligation to disclose customer data to law firms, prompting fresh spotlight on the disputed evidence-gathering techniques used to prove that a broadband user has shared copyrighted material." Pretty interesting considering the US government's recent push to require built-in backdoors for monitoring user activity, although the focus is more on criminal behavior and not piracy control.

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