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All your YouTube viewing history will now be available to Viacom

By Andrew Pollack on 07/03/2008 at 11:29 AM EDT

As if my post earlier today wasn't enough, here's some further emphasis.

According to Wired, a judge has ordered Google to turn over its entire history of user viewing data to the media giant. The ruling is based in part on the idea that IP addresses which are tracked don't constitute sufficiently identifying information to be considered a privacy problem.

IMHO this is a massive hypocrisy. If the data isn't revealing enough to be a privacy concern, then it has no value as a proof of violation and thus should not be handed over.

Now, all Viacom has to do is is track those IP addresses down to homeowners. It doesn't matter any more who used the IP address in the home. Another ruling recently against eBay (see Marketplace.org ) established the precedent that eBay was acting as a landlord to people who used its space to sell things, and was thus liable for their actions.

How can Viacom tie back those IP addresses to you?

1. Any tracking cookie that identifies you, and can be matched to your use of the same IP address.

2. Reverse DNS lookups will show the cable router, dsl interface, etc. for your home. Viacom may have to contact your media provider to get the actual address. I wonder if they know the right people to call. Oh, wait....

3. Any time you've accessed content on a Viacom owned site, your IP address is logged. Tie them together.

Am I making my point here?


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: All your YouTube viewing history will now be available to ViacomBy mdmadph on 07/03/2008 at 02:29 PM EDT
Aye, but I'm torn -- for years, the EFF has been trying to get courts to admit
and learn that IP addresses aren't physically identical to a person's identity,
but I never thought it would turn out like this...

Kind of a weird twist -- perhaps Google will win out in this, or perhaps this
ruling could be used against "them" in the future (such as with the Thomas RIAA
case). If an IP address isn't revealing enough to link definitively to a
person, can the RIAA really sue people based upon their IP addresses?
re: All your YouTube viewing history will now be available to ViacomBy Dwight Wilbanks on 07/03/2008 at 02:58 PM EDT
Its not over until its over.

IANAL, but, it seems to me that there are multiple grounds that Google could
fight this, and they have significant value in doing so. Its good PR.

Google has shown that there usage logs are valuable, they are able to pull
information together on a user from a crazy lot of sources to be able to. Just
giving this information over to Viacom would dilute their value. Also give
Viacom a marketing advantage to merge Google data with their own to target
advertising.

Also, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Your can put a hidden camera in your storefront near the cash register, but,
you can not put a hidden camera in the bathroom. If a celebrity strips down
naked in front of the cash register, you hit pay day, its your to sell. If you
get caught putting a camera in the bathroom, you go to jail.

The distinction is, and has always been the reasonable expectation of privacy.
re: All your YouTube viewing history will now be available to ViacomBy Nathan T. Freeman on 07/04/2008 at 04:47 PM EDT
I just don't understand why Google maintained the IP address in their logs.
That's just stupid. A salted hash of the IP address would have been just as
valuable, and not useful to tie back IP addresses en masse.
re: All your YouTube viewing history will now be available to ViacomBy mdmadph on 07/08/2008 at 02:18 PM EDT
Google probably does it because the government tells 'em too. (Let's not kid
ourselves -- you know it's true.) However, I don't mind the government doing
it sneakily -- nothing new there. I _do_ mind the corporate world having the
same powers, however.


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