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BT Seeks Moratorium On Internet Piracy Cases 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the motives-questionable dept.
myocardialinfarction writes "In the wake of widespread criticism of ACS:Law and its business model, British Telecom has asked for a moratorium on sharing customer's data in cases of alleged illegal file sharing. 'BT lawyers asked for the adjournment, saying that the firm needed to see details of the security system that would be used to store its customers' data before it could comply with any order. ... "We want to ensure broadband subscribers are adequately protected so that rights holders can pursue their claims for copyright infringement without causing unnecessary worry to innocent people."'"
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BT Seeks Moratorium On Internet Piracy Cases

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  • Yes... Trust the corporate master to look out for our interests...

    That's the winning strategy!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Aldenissin (976329)

      I wish an American ISP would take this stance... but who are you? Why your the Tin-Man, and you where there too toto... ohhh it was all a dream!

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You can not trust a company to do the morally right thing just as you cannot trust a stranger to do the right thing. There has to be laws that make sure that it is more profitable for the companies to behave than to screw people over.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Didn't Time Warner just get a judgement stating that they only need to provide one user's details per day? That sounds like a big step forward considering the RIAA/MPAA were suing people in their thousands which would now take them years.

        Here in the UK some ISPs charge a lot for the data. Apparently Virgin Media is one of them, so despite the crappy service and nasty throttling you are at least a bit better protected from the speculative invoicing scams perpetrated by people like ACS:Law. When it costs

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Isn't Time Warner a member of both the RIAA and the MPAA? I seem to remember hearing about a Warner film studio and a Warner record label....

          I suggest that Time Warner are only interested in obstructing access to user data for other content owners. That's what the judgment does: it's anti-competitive.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jonbryce (703250)

            Time Warner Cable is a separate company from Time Warner movie studios. They de-merged last year.

            • One if Time Warner is now kicking themselves.

              The split-off cable company now suddenly has radically different interests than the parent company.
              Prior to the split the cable division would likely haven't gotten a call to "comply" and drop any injunctions.

  • by Apple Acolyte (517892) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @02:26AM (#33791896)

    Especially in the face of other powerful corporate interests that like to flex a lot of legal muscle? Such instances are few and far between. I don't have any plans on living in the UK, but I'd like to support BT. Their ideas intrigue me and I'd like to subscribe to their newsletter.

    On a similar note, I've seen one web hosting company that won't buckle on illegitimate DMCA complaints without being compelled by court order to suspend service. The company I'm thinking of is Hostway. Their service plans and features aren't very good for the money, but if you need a host that will be in your corner in case someone is playing unscrupulous tricks on you with the law, that's one company to look to. Any other examples of corporations truly serving their customers well even when under some level of legal threat?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Content providers are finally catching on the fact that they cannot stop the pirates, so they're going after the ISPs instead. Quoth Bill Maher:

      It's not heroic to 'beat' cancer or prevail in any other endeavour where your motivation is totally saving or advancing your own ass.

      • by houghi (78078) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @02:46AM (#33791972)

        And the ISPs do not like that, because it will cost money. And that is why they are trying to fight it. This way they can say it is not secure, which will give them more leverage if they are asked to hand over the data to say no.

        • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @04:28AM (#33792316)

          They could charge reasonable fees for rendering the requested information. They could probably charge enough to make a small profit.

          I think in the present case they are actually just sick and tired of being forced to provide evidence against their own customer and to handle all of the fishing expeditions launched rights holders.

          Sure the moratorium man save the some money. But I suspect they are just fed up with it.

          • You hit the nail on the head, it is exactly that reason why BT (and some other providers) want this stopped.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by dave420 (699308)
            They already have the ability to charge for the information, with each IP costing over £100. They're doing this now. They've been doing it for ages.
            • by icebike (68054)

              Hey, don't tell that to me, tell it to the the others replying to this thread saying how impossible that would be.

              Google, Yahoo, and AT&T have published rates for these searches.

    • by siddesu (698447) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @02:48AM (#33791978)

      They aren't protecting the customers so much as themselves. Privacy laws in the EU are somewhat more stringent than elsewhere, and can probably backfire in more egregious cases of abuse.

      Also, there are the costs of frivolous requests -- it is not difficult to compile a list of IP addresses and send it around asking for more information -- more so if that's your business and you're getting paid for it.

      If, however, you're on the receiving end of many such requests, to you that is obviously all cost and no merit.

      I think it is interesting to look at this from a slightly different angle though -- maybe future laws regarding policing copyright violations should be structured in such way that it is costly to both fire frivolous requests, and ignore legitimate complaints.

      This would be one more good issue to bring to legislative campaigns on the topic, and help turn the tide, which at the moment seems to be one of presumption of guilt and trying to drive everyone into settlement, violation or no.

      • by Spad (470073) <slashdot AT spad DOT co DOT uk> on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @04:00AM (#33792226) Homepage

        Specifically, BT are being investigated by the ICO [ico.gov.uk] after it turned out that they sent PlusNet subscriber data to ACS:Law in an unencrypted format; they're also technically in contempt of court as the court order requiring them to hand over said data explicitly required it to be encrypted.

        • by mSparks43 (757109)

          It's a bit like DRM though. What good is sending stuff out encrypted, if your users will just decrypt it and put it online for all and sundry.

        • they're also technically in contempt of court as the court order requiring them to hand over said data explicitly required it to be encrypted.

          It was sent in binary. It a court that would probably count.

      • by icebike (68054)

        All cost an no merit?

        Why not publish rates for data extractions and stick to them.

        Even in the EU, Subpoenas must allow charging reasonable rates to cover costs, right? If not BT becomes mere staff members for the lawyers of the rights holders.

        • by siddesu (698447) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @05:59AM (#33792594)

          "Charging reasonable rates to cover costs" will only bring negative reactions from all sides, IMHO.

          First, if they are required to produce this information by an order of the court, they may not be able to recover any costs at all.

          Second, from what I've read, it seems BT is a favorite target for all kinds of accusations of evilitude. It seems very plausible that an "official" price list will cause some lawyer office to complain that legit requests for information are "blocked" by "overcharging".

          Third, publishing a price list for processing information requests "officially" sounds like they're in the business of selling customer data. Such step will certainly leave me, were I a customer, with a severely bad aftertaste, even if the company swears it's only in response of "legitimate" requests.

          Finally, and most importantly, even if they can charge some amount for processing such requests, and recover the costs, the unit that will be doing this work isn't going to be a profit center.

          I still see only costs and no merits.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)

      Especially in the face of other powerful corporate interests that like to flex a lot of legal muscle? Such instances are few and far between. I don't have any plans on living in the UK, but I'd like to support BT

      Yeah, I support bittorrent too.

    • by Stevecrox (962208) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @04:11AM (#33792258) Journal
      A company that deployed Phorm on its network without telling is users*, who before this data breech wern't even challenging the requests from ACS:Law and a company whose in house legal department were giving out user information unencrypted in violation of the data protection act.

      Sounds a great company to show your support to, I'd be more inclined to support Talk Talk or Virgin since they actually fight to keep there customers privacy. BT and Sky are just back peddling so they don't look so bad in the media.

      *European Commission has just brought legal charges against the UK government for not prosecuting BT over the privacy invasion that was Phorm.
      • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @04:30AM (#33792328)

        A lot of people seem to be pimping Virgin as a safe option, but this is really ignorant:

        http://www.out-law.com/page-9180 [out-law.com]

        http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/virgin_to_monitor_filesharing_in_uk.php [readwriteweb.com]

        Virgin were also considering their own content service, and part of their offering to the music industry to achieve favourable licensing for this service was to offer to deal with file sharers or hand their details over.

        Virgin absolutely cannot be trusted, if not only because they too have a media arm which means, like Sky, have a vested interest in supporting the media industry. I wish people would stop putting them on their list of so called trustworthy ISPs. Virgin will be the first to sell your details off or punish you directly without fair trial if there's money in it for them. They're absolutely one of the worst ISPs to be giving your money to in this respect, but most people get blinded by their shiny 50mbps broadband package it seems when talking about them.

        Even TalkTalk were considering Phorm, and it was only when BT got a shit load of bad PR for it that they really backed off of the idea of it. A certain degree of scepticism is needed when dealing with them, however their boss has at least been the most vocal and active in fighting the DEA measures.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Just a few years ago, Virgin internet were hitting slashdot front page, and even main stream news, practically weekly for a string of privacy and policy gaffs.

          Virgin was my first broadband provider, and was solid until around 2005-2006 where they activated THE EVIL BIT.
          They don't want to be an ISP anymore. They want to provide a "media experience" or some irrelevent shit.

          When I switched, they pulled a little bit of an AOL on me. They are the new AOL, but without the stigma of AOL.
          Do the geek hero thing, and

          • Do the geek hero thing, and rescue any friends and family from there evil grasps.

            Ok, as long as I don't have to deal with Virgin Media customer support. Deal?

        • Virgin absolutely cannot be trusted, if not only because they too have a media arm which means, like Sky,

          Virgin sold their media arm to Sky, funnily enough, a month or two back.

          Let's be honest though, the ISPs aren't really just thinking of their poor customers, they just don't want to become the net's policemen. This was also their reasoning behind the fight against the DEA, TalkTalk included. That Act tries to shift the burden onto the ISPs by making them analyse traffic, contact customers, go through

    • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @04:22AM (#33792300)

      This is the same BT whose PlusNet subsidiary e-mailed 400 customers personal details to ACS:Law in an unencrypted spreadsheet, and as such, who are themselves now under investigation for breach of the data protection act through not securely handling personal data.

      This isn't about BT protecting customers, this is about BT trying to look good for the information commissioner when he comes knocking to see what the fuck they were playing at so that he can consider what sanctions/punishment to enforce against the company.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      I don't have any plans on living in the UK, but I'd like to support BT.

      Trust me, if you did live in the UK you wouldn't be saying that. They are one of the most useless and mistrusted companies here, second only to the likes of British-FUCKING-Gas, e-FUCKING-on and Vir-FUCKING-gin.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Mister Whirly (964219)
        And here I thought British spelling was funny because it tries to put an unnecessary "u" in everything, but now I see they are also adding "FUCKING" into their spelling? How are we Yanks supposed to keep up?
    • by DJCville (1229782)
      As a well-heeled corporate customer who has seen firsthand the level of customer service given to my company, I find it VERRRy difficult to believe that BT has any interests but their own at heart. Unless someone very high in their organization has a kid who has been downloading LOTS copyrighted material
  • Pointless bickering (Score:5, Interesting)

    by airfoobar (1853132) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @02:39AM (#33791954)

    In a matter of months, the practice of harvesting the details of possibly innocent individuals based on accusations generated using unreliable methods will be the norm and sanctioned by law. The Digital Economy Act is all a-drafted by the Rights Holders and assented by Her Majesty, and the Slimiest Lawyers in all Her Kingdom are all a-primed and ready to litigate and make lots of money off the unsuspecting public.

    It's gonna be a hoot!

    • by Aceticon (140883) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @04:40AM (#33792374)

      This government given opportunity for blackmail cannot be wasted. Grandmothers are already being accused of sharing porn and made to pay under the mere threat of a lawsuit - just imagine when their ability to connect to the Internet, where all sorts of services, public and otherwise, have been moved to, is on the line.

      I suspect that within less than a month of the law comming to be, whole ranges of IP addresses will be receiving spurious accusations of copyright infregement and blackmailed to pay "or else". (After all, there are no courts involved in deciding who is guilty and who is innocent - the connection is just cut on the 3rd strike).

      Give it 6 months of countless newsarticles about grandmothers, single mothers and members of the church loosing their connections for "sharing Brittney", everybody knowing somebody whose connection has been cut and people suing the government right and left because essential services have been moved exclusivelly to the Net and they cannot access them any more and the backslash will be huge.

      Defending Cheryl Cole's right to make millions is all kinda *yawn* until your Internet connection is taken down by a slimy lawyer blackmailing you for £1000 - then it becomes personal.

      We couldn't have asked for a better way to make the common people aware of the evils of Copyright Laws and the influence of the Media cartels in politics.

    • by Nursie (632944)

      A matter of months? Are you crazy?

      That would go against EU law, and I'm not saying you couldn't buy them off just as easily, but it could take decades for them to do anything about it!

  • ...that no matter how secure the investigators systems are, it won't help if your highly paid lawyers send the data in unencrypted format.
  • by rdebath (884132) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @03:22AM (#33792088)

    The UK data protection act states that your customer's details must be kept secure. If they aren't there are, possibly significant, legal penalties.

    A company giving personal details to an organisation that's been PUBLICLY shown to have piss poor security is a recipe for losing court cases, big time.

    Sending the list by unencrypted email was just stupid, but generally doesn't result in a real security breach because like the "purloined letter" the gems are swamped in junk. Nevertheless high profile targets (like ACS law and possibly BT) need to be much more careful. Having a policy of sending or accepting such data by email is another matter, however.

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      indeed as an ex employee BT have a feared internal security department who are very strict on computer security I suspect some lawyer in BT group broke/bent a few rules in how they sent the data to acs law and BT Security are clamping down.
      • by Rogerborg (306625)

        I suspect some lawyer in BT group broke/bent a few rules

        Above the law? I am the lawyer!

        Actually, I doubt there was a lawyer involved, since the first thing every corporate lawyer learns in the first week of the job is to say no to everything, always.

  • Meant facetiously of course.

    I can access (and have accessed) the Internet via the routers of other people in my neighborhood... and not all of them were open. These days there are ways to fool even WPA.

    "Theoretical Access" can be a pretty strong legal point. If you have a lawyer smart enough to use it. And the thing is that these days, most could if they tried.
  • They're also looking for a moratorium on internet piracy cases. Naturally, they don't want to be screwed over while such a moratorium takes place, but they want one nonetheless.

  • Change of heart! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dugeen (1224138) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @05:02AM (#33792448) Journal
    BT's concern for their customers' privacy is entirely proper and creditable. If only they'd shown the same concern when they were secretly allowing Phorm to intercept their network traffic (while publicly maintaining that this wasn't happening).
  • Digital Economy Act (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @05:05AM (#33792450) Journal

    There has recently been an orchestration of events surrounding existing anti-filesharing methods, and the purpose is simple: to bring on the Digital Economy Act.

    Chief Master Winegarten, the judge who has been issuing all the Norwich Pharmacal orders requiring ISPs to release data, has suddenly become critical of ACS:Law. ISP user data has and confidential e-mails have appeared on a web server. Large ISPs which have complied summarily with ACS - i.e. the ones with government contracts more valuable than any collection of attentive geeks' custom - are now raising public objections.

  • who initially thought of the artist instead of the telephone company?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    And the whole "proof" of "filesharing" is collected by unlicensed private investigators, working behind closed doors, using who knows what methods. And in this case, they are in a different country.

    How is such an absurd flimsy bit of "proof" allowed to be used?

  • (Not on BT's part)
    Seems that many rights holders have gotten so obnoxious that even the phone company cares.

  • We want to ensure broadband subscribers are adequately protected so that rights holders can pursue their claims for copyright infringement without causing unnecessary worry to innocent people.

    You see, I have a big problem RIGHT THERE.

    At least on (most of) the western world, everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. So if you share the data with the "copyright holders" before the conviction, you are harming innocent people.

We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything.

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