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September 29, 2010 | Jim Killock

What ISPs should do about the likes of ACS:Law

What BT, Sky and other ISPs should do about the likes of ACS:Law
Open Rights Group spoke to BT today, and has requested a meeting with Sky to discuss how they handle future applications for people’s data when they are thought to be infringing copyright. 
We think there are three things that ISPs can do:
1 Oppose all applications for {Norwich Pharmacal orders” (NPOs). These are the requests that require ISPs to disclose the identity of clients to companies like ACS:Law. Opposing these requests would force the rights owners to disclose and test their evidential methods in court. This would protect customers from poor monitoring. A number of companies try to get hold of customers data in this way, and the possible demise of ACS:Law will not remove the market for hard-nosed lawyers trying to enforce copyright claims through threatening letters.
2 ISPs should in every case, whether contested or not, insist on full public disclosure of evidential methods in court before NPOs are released
3 As we know that, even with accurate monitoring, most of the claims will be directed at an innocent party, customers should be informed that they can legitimately defend themselves before they receive accusations. ISPs and the courts should find a mechanism to make this clear to anyone who is contacted when their information is disclosed.
We will also be speaking to the ICO, particularly to discuss the fact that this leak highlights all the concerns with the legality of private surveillance raised by Peter Hustinx, the EU’s Data Protection supremo.

Open Rights Group spoke to BT today, and has requested a meeting with Sky to discuss how they handle future applications for people’s data when they are thought to be infringing copyright. 

We think there are three things that ISPs can do:

  1. Oppose all applications for “Norwich Pharmacal orders” (NPOs). These are the requests that require ISPs to disclose the identity of clients to companies like ACS:Law. Opposing these requests would force the rights owners to disclose and test their evidential methods in court. This would protect customers from poor monitoring. A number of companies try to get hold of customers data in this way, and the possible demise of ACS:Law will not remove the market for hard-nosed lawyers trying to enforce copyright claims through threatening letters.
  2. ISPs should in every case, whether contested or not, insist on full public disclosure of evidential methods in court before NPOs are released
  3. As we know that, even with accurate monitoring, most of the claims will be directed at an innocent party, customers should be informed that they can legitimately defend themselves before they receive accusations. ISPs and the courts should find a mechanism to make this clear to anyone who may be contacted as a result of their information being disclosed.

We will also be speaking to the ICO, particularly to discuss the fact that this leak highlights all the concerns with the legality of private surveillance raised by Peter Hustinx, the EU’s Data Protection supremo.

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