Saturday, July 05, 2008

The End Of Privacy At YouTube?

Ever get the feeling that Big Brother is watching? Technology allows for more and more tracking of what we often believe is secure information. As you read below the fold, keep in mind that YouTube is the most frequently visited site on the web.
From this Australian news source:
YOUTUBE has been ordered to give up records of each clip watched on the popular video-sharing website, along with the date, time and IP address of each person who watched it, to media giant Viacom.

In a ruling that could have major implications for online privacy around the world, US District Court judge Louis Stanton granted Viacom access to the records as part of its ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit against Google and its subsidiary YouTube....
The judge stated:
"The motion to compel production of all data from the Logging database concerning each time a YouTube video has been viewed on the YouTube website or through embedding on a third-party website is granted."
Read the entire article.

According to the Washington Post's article on the same topic:
... [M]aking the records anonymous is not fail-safe. In 2006, an AOL researcher inadvertently posted three months' worth of searches typed in by 650,000 anonymous AOL users. Although their identities were masked -- each user was given a randomly generated unique identification number -- the search terms, which included names, home towns and interests, could be collated and used to identify a person, as an enterprising New York Times reporter showed.

The ruling and the response to it underscores the concerns about data collection and Web surfers' lack of control over the use of their personal data.

Jennifer Urban, a law professor at the University of Southern California, said that even if Viacom does not use the information to sue users, "a future litigant may not keep the information private."

What videos people view, what books they read, have long been considered sensitive information, she said, "intensely personal pieces of information we expect people to be able to keep private."
Cases addressing copyright infringement and even national security can put individuals' private data at risk. At least, such is my view. How do you see the issue?

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posted by Always On Watch @ 7/05/2008 08:30:00 AM