TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Dutch Judge Protects Privacy of File Swappers

Dutch Judge Protects Privacy of File Swappers

News Wire (
Tue, 12 Jul 2005 12:44:35 -0500

A Dutch judge ruled on Tuesday that Internet service providers would
not have to hand over names or addresses of customers who may be
illegally swapping films, music and other copyright-protected files.

Brein, a Dutch organization representing 52 media and entertainment
companies, had acquired unique computer identification numbers,
so-called IP addresses, of file swappers and requested personal
details behind these IP addresses from five large Internet service

The service providers -- UPC, Essent, Tiscali), Wanadoo, and KPN --
refused to hand over the details, arguing that only a criminal trial
court could demand them.

The case was subsequently brought to a civil court in the city of
Utrecht, where a judge ruled that although he was allowed to order the
ISPs to submit the personal data, the plaintiffs had not met the
necessary conditions to warrant such an order.

"Brein has sought help from a research company, which has looked at
the shared folders on computers of the file swappers. In that process
it may have accessed private files," the judge said in the court

"The judge does not deem this correct, because according to Dutch law,
privacy is insufficiently protected in the United States," the ruling

Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, the attorney for the five ISPs, welcomed
the ruling as "an important victory for the privacy of Internet users.

"Private organizations cannot start sniffing around on someone else's
computer and collect data," he added.

Brein manager Tim Kuik said he would take his case to a higher
court. Media companies on the list of plaintiffs included EMI,
Universal and Sony Music.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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