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Federal judge orders Google to turn over YouTube user data in Viacom lawsuit

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] Tuesday ordered [PDF text] Google to turn over databases containing logs of every time any IP address has accessed any YouTube [corporate websites] video. Viacom [corporate website] had requested access to the databases in a lawsuit [case materials] brought for copyright infringement, arguing that Google and YouTube knowingly made copyrighted material available on their websites without permission. District Judge Louis Stanton rejected Google's claim that turning over user information would invade users' privacy in violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act [text], finding that an IP address or YouTube username alone was not enough to identify users. The court did, however, reject Viacom's bid to compel Google to turn over larger databases which include user-provided text summaries of hosted videos. Technology and privacy advocates sharply criticized [EFF blog post] the order, saying that it would set a dangerous precedent for internet privacy. Computerworld has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

Google has recently started to push for stronger online privacy protection after strong criticism by privacy groups. In September 2007, Google called for stronger privacy legislation [speech text; JURIST report] at a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conference. In June 2007, Google announced that it would reduce retention of user search data to 18 months [JURIST report] in response to a European Commission investigation [JURIST report] into whether the company complied with EU privacy rules [EU Data Protection website].

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