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Innovation in Information Security

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I Know What You Did Last Visit

In the ruling of a court case fought by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) against a number of filesharing sites and products, the popular BitTorrent hosting site TorrentSpy was ordered to start keeping logs of site visitors and then turn those records over to the MPAA.

The practice of not keeping logs on users, as actually described in the TorrentSpy Privacy Policy, is not a new technique in use by sites where a user's activity could be illegal or there are strong privacy concerns. In responding to the ruling, TorrentSpy's legal counsel explained that the site would sooner prevent access to content by US visitors, than it would commence logging for the sole purpose of turning over those records.

Community reaction, especially from frequent users of similar sites, has been of disbelief. Even if they don't support the potentially illegal activity taking place on the site, commentators have found it difficult to reconcile the court's ruling - many finding that it is a precedent that could be extremely risky for many other websites. Supporters have even pointed out that it is possible to find the same illegal data through sites such as Google, so why not go after them, instead?

Further complicating matters are accusations that the MPAA used an illegal network breach to gain access to correspondence and trade secrets belonging to TorrentSpy (though what comprises a trade secret for such a site is unknown). The accusations form the basis of a concurrently-running suit in a Californian court.

10 June 2007

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