Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian urges Google to appeal YouTube ruling

    TORONTO, July 10 /CNW/ - Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann
Cavoukian is urging Google to appeal the recent ruling of U.S. District Court
Judge Louis Stanton, requiring the disclosure of YouTube users' information to
Viacom. YouTube, a popular website, is owned by Google.
    In a letter to Sergey Brin, Google's President of Technology, the
Commissioner emphasized her deep concerns about the privacy implications of
the ruling, which she was asked to outline earlier this week on Canada AM.
    Commissioner Cavoukian said "I was astounded to learn that Google had
been ordered to disclose certain YouTube information, which includes users'
login IDs and IP addresses, for use in Viacom's copyright infringement lawsuit
against YouTube." The Commissioner felt that Judge Stanton had "failed to
consider that user login IDs and video viewing habits can reveal a great deal
of sensitive personal information."
    In response to suggestions that the data be "anonymized" before its
release to Viacom's legal counsel, the Commissioner noted that it is possible
to re-identify individuals by linking their data with publicly available
personal information, such as that found in telephone directories. "Simply
stripping certain data fields from a database is not sufficient to safeguard
the privacy of individuals" warned the Commissioner.
    Despite the Judge's associated protection order which attempts to limit
the authorized uses of YouTube users' information by Viacom, this does not
eliminate the Commissioner's concerns. Companies simply cannot guarantee that
information, once obtained, will not be subject to unauthorized use or
disclosure. "Witness the example of identity theft" she noted. "The majority
of instances of identity theft result from insider abuse."
    "While I have sympathy for the rights of intellectual property holders,
businesses should not rely on the surveillance of consumers to protect their
copyright interests. It is not acceptable to allow copyright enforcement to
come at the expense of users' privacy."
    The full text of the letter to Google may be found on the Commissioner's
website at in the What's New section.

For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Jason Papadimos, Communications
Officer, Desk: (416) 326-8828, 1-800-387-0073, Cell: (647) 408-5556,

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