NYTimes.com Article: Verizon Ordered to Give Identity of Net Subscriber

James Rogers jamesr@best.com
22 Jan 2003 18:09:20 -0800


On Wed, 2003-01-22 at 16:55, khare@alumni.caltech.edu wrote:
> 
> OK, what's this shortcut they're talking about? Anyone know this supposed law? 


DMCA.  The RIAA has been granted the legal right to subpoena user
information from organizations that would otherwise fall under "common
carrier" protection if they "suspect" someone is engaged in copyright
infringement, due process be damned.  The RIAA is asserting (apparently
successfully) that they have the right to subpoena any data a common
carrier may have on packets that transit their network even if none of
the computer systems are owned or controlled by the transit provider. 
The original interpretation when the law was passed was supposed to be
that the common carrier was only liable for giving user information on
servers that it owned/controlled (e.g. personal web page servers) if
copyright infringement was suspected.

This ruling is bullshit, and eviscerates the whole concept of "common
carrier".  Hypothetically speaking, savvy ISPs who care about their
customers will be in the business of blinding the traffic that transits
their networks, perhaps only for those ports and services that the RIAA
are interested in.  If "common carrier" status doesn't mean anything
legally, it can certainly be implemented technologically.

Yes, I'm cranky.  It means more work to protect our networks from media
busybodies.

Note that this could have the same effect on network providers as FOIA
did on government agencies.  The legal requirements to comply with the
arbitrary wishes of a third-party in a timely manner without
compensation could bury an unlucky or unpopular ISP in paperwork they
are compelled to respond to, devoting an inordinate amount of overhead
to their business.  Its the club the RIAA was looking for to bludgeon
big network providers into submission with.  For any ISP with millions
of users, the cost of compliance could bankrupt them if the RIAA decided
to pursue every known infraction that transits their network.


-James Rogers
 jamesr@best.com