BREIN’s Win Over Newsconnection Spells Trouble for Usenet Pirates

  • The debate regarding rights to privacy and the rights of law enforcers resulted in an interesting case in the Netherlands this week.
  • BREIN, an anti-piracy organization, won a case requesting Internet users' private information.
  • The judge agreed that people's privacy can't trump the ability to prosecute those involved with piracy. The ruling also puts the responsibility on the shoulders of all service providers to provide access to this information.

BREIN, a company deeply involved in keeping the Internet clear of pirated material, won a huge case in the Netherlands. As a result, it can now obtain the personal details of many internet users involved in piracy.

Of course, such a case comes with a lot of controversies. Internet users often fight for their rights to keep private information secret. Many service providers also believe they can hide behind privacy laws and not concern themselves with what their clients do online. These companies often refuse to provide personal information when authorities try to curb internet-related crimes.

BREIN already experienced some victories against piracy this year. Now the company made a case against Newsconnection. Newsconnection is a Usenet, a popular online sharing community, and a discussion system provider. BREIN tracked down Usenet account holders who are involved in illegal activities such as sharing pirated works online. The problem is to engage with these individuals since their personal details are hard to track.

BREIN made a case to force Newsconnection to hand over this information. However, the entity countered with a statement that it's not responsible to keep or share this information. Newsconnection views itself as a reseller and intermediary. In this role, it doesn't have access to IP addresses and can't give details to authorities.

However, the Court of Appeal decided BREIN's case had validity. It also set a precedent by ordering Newsconnection must implement a system to identify users. This can be its own database or agreeing with the other party, such as Usenet, that information will be available if needed. It means companies can no longer hide behind the role of only being an intermediary. It also echoes the guidelines of the GDPR which requires companies to vet companies they partner with.

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