Commissioner Cavoukian Applauds Agreement Protecting YouTube Users' Privacy

    TORONTO, July 16 /CNW/ - The copyright infringement lawsuit between
Viacom and Google raised serious privacy concerns, said Dr. Ann Cavoukian,
Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner. Specifically, the Commissioner
objected to Judge Louis Stanton's recent order to disclose YouTube users'
personal information (user ID, IP address, and visitor ID). On July 14, 2008,
Google (which owns the website YouTube) and Viacom signed an agreement whereby
Google will be allowed to anonymize data that otherwise could identify
individual YouTube users, while still complying with the court's order.
    "I applaud Google and Viacom for being responsive to widespread
international concerns over the privacy rights of individual YouTube users,"
said Commissioner Cavoukian. "In conjunction with the other terms of the
original protection order, imposing strict limitations on the use and
disclosure of YouTube users' information, I am reasonably satisfied that
users' privacy will be protected. No longer will privacy be caught in the
middle of, what is essentially, a legal disagreement between large
    "My reading of the agreement is that Google will substitute alternate
unique values for users' identifiers, yet preserve all correlations and
pre-existing interdependencies. This means that while users' online activities
will remain discrete and linkable, it will be both technically and legally
difficult, if not impossible, to associate these profiles with real-world
identifiable individuals."
    "That said, the details of the specific protocol by which this enormous
logging database will be anonymized have yet to be agreed upon or publicly
known. And, as they say, the devil is in the detail."
    Since one of her favourite expressions is, "trust, but verify," the
Commissioner looks forward to learning the details of this protocol, due by
July 21, 2008. Consistent with Google's commitment to keep their users
informed of important developments in this case, the Commissioner urges Google
to make these details publically available.
    The full text of the agreement between Google, Viacom and other companies
party to the lawsuit may be found at:

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Bob Spence, Communications
Co-ordinator, Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Direct line:
(416) 326-3939, Cell phone: (416) 873-9746, Toll free: 1-800-387-0073, E-mail:; Website:

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