YouTube/Viacom: The Issue is with the Judge

I have trouble agreeing with Mchael Arrington over at TechCrunch which is unusual for me. In a recent post he argues that Google is entrusted with user data and needs to protect it. While this makes perfect sense, isn’t the judge who ordered Google to hand over mountains of personal information to Viacom consisting of user names and IP addresses the problem?

The judge in the case dismissed privacy issues associated with giving up IP addresses and user names as speculative. Let’s see if I understand yhe logic of Louis L. Stanton correctly. My user name on YouTube is rtehrani.

If I were to speculate on how to find rtehrani’s identity online I may Google rtehrani. In doing so, this line of speculation shows dozens of links to none other than me. I didn’t really have to speculate that much to determine who I am, where I live and what my IP address is.

In fact I can’t think of a worse invasion of my privacy.

I have really not commented on this issue much because it is outside of my traditional focus but millions of people’s personal information being handed over to Viacom poses horrendous privacy challenges and the judge in this case who I don’t know from Adam seems about as clueless about technology as Adam would be if he were reincarnated today.

So to Michael Arrington I say, If Google does the right thing and fights this case tooth and nail, the blame lies with the judge, not the search giant.

The author owns shares in Google

  • simon
    July 12, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Hi Rich,
    Wouldn’t it be rich if the Judge’s own kids were uploading/downloading/viewing “illigal” videos on YouTube?
    I think Google should get Viacom’s employee’s private video history to see how many of THEM have been conducting in illigal activities on YouTube.
    I think Adam WOULD know more about technology AND privacy (even though he’d be butt naked) than the ol’ judge.

    July 12, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    You are right that some people use their names as user ids. That’s why Viacom, as soon as the issue was pointed out, agreed that information should be produced in anonymized form – that is, without the user ids. That way Viacom has the fair opportunity to prove its copyright case, while even this user data is not produced.
    The problem is that having raised an issue that is not really an issue (because user information is not being produced) – people keep commenting on something that isn’t happening. That’s not really fair to Viacom – which has behaved well here – or to Google – because potential users are worried about user data being produced.

  • LogicalManTrek3002
    July 12, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    One of the problem is really with Google, read again that one : “Defendants do not refute that the “login ID is an anonymous pseudonym that users create for themselves when they sign up with YouTube” which without more “cannot identify specific individuals”.”
    The judge’s logic is based on Google’s logic. But you know that Google’s logic is illogic since your-self you have a Login ID that defy that logic.
    Another problem with Google is that they log everything/keep everything in the first place when they are not required to.
    As for Viacom, I hope they won’t become like the RIAA in some years if that jugdment turn in their favor.

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