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Swiss Top Court on Anti-P2P: Collecting IP Addresses is Invasion of Privacy

Swiss Top Court on Anti-P2P: Collecting IP Addresses is Invasion of Privacy

Country’s Supreme Court says Logistep AG’s collection of IP addresses of suspected file-sharers for sale to copyright holders to pursue copyright infringement claims violates the country’s Privacy Act, and that individuals’ right to privacy may only be revoked in the context of criminal proceedings.

One of the main tools at copyright holders’ disposal in the war against illegal file-sharing has long been anti-P2P groups like Swiss-based Logistep AG that monitor P2P networks and services for signs of infringement and collect the IP addresses of suspected infringers.

The practice has been criticized not only for the fact that it can lead to false positives, but in a closely watched court case in Switzerland, for the fact that snooping on people and reporting their IP addresses to third parties is a violation of that country’s Privacy Act.

Switzerland’s Supreme Court ruled yesterday that anti-P2P firm Logistep AG unlawfully collected personal information on suspected file-sharers and sold it to copyright holders in their fight against online infringement.

It said that IP addresses are protected under the country’s rather stringent privacy protection laws, especially if they are being gathered for use in criminal proceedings.

The case began in earnest back at the start of 2008 when the country’s Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) Hanspeter Thuer ordered Logistep AG to quit gathering IP addresses of suspected file-sharers, determining that the Legislature had created no legal basis for it.

A lower court sided with Logistep AG last May, but this ruling by the country’s High Court reverses that decision.

The FDPIC welcomes today’s federal court ruling in matters Logistep,” reads an FDPIC press release.

According to today’s ruling, the Federal Court in Lausanne has determined IP addresses are uniquely personal data, and they will be covered under the Privacy Act.

For its part, Logistep AG has obviously criticized the ruling, saying that it is “contrary to court decisions in Germany and abroad, where the proper and legitimate work of the Logistep AG has been confirmed.

It says the ruling creates a “kind of legal limbo” that could lead to the “massive and uncontrolled illegal distribution of copyrighted content.”

That may be the case, but as the court noted, the interests of copyright holders cannot outweigh the privacy interests of the people Logistep AG wishes to monitor for suspected wrongdoing.

Stay tuned.

[email protected]

[Hat Tip]

Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus
John V. Karavitis
John V. Karavitis

John V. Karavitis LOL! Just beautiful! What a beautiful end-run around that legal issue! My first thought is whether that legal reasoning could be applicable here in the United States. If it is, it would be an utter brick wall to efforts by the RIAA and MPAA in their anti-P2P efforts. But what would their response to that be? It's obvious that the fact that these lawsuits are a money-losing proposition has not deterred the RIAA, what would their next tactic be? What could they do if deproved of IP address data? They might turn around and start demanding that we have to register our electronic devices and pay an annual fee to use them, the same way that the Brits have to do with television. John V. Karavitis, John Karavitis, Karavitis, KC9ISD.


that is collecting and selling. what about the copyright holders collecting ip addresses on their own?

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