(Source: thenextweb)
Judge is upset at telecom's decision to turn over records early, forces records to be destroyed

Need your privacy protected?  Don't count on Verizon Wireless.  The joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD) has wound up in an embarassing situation after it shared a bit too much information in the latest extortion attempt by big media's hired legal hitmen.  

"Malibu Media LLC" an alleged "copyright troll" started the mess when it accused five "John Does" operating on Verizon Wireless networks of file-sharing movies via bit-torrent.  It obtained a subpoena for their records, in an attempt to gain access to the users' information for use in a threats-for-cash scheme.

Faced with the subpoena, Verizon Wireless happily threw customer privacy and trust away, handing over the privileged information.  The only issue was that Verizon Wireless did not follow due process -- one of the defendants had filed a challenge and Verizon Wireless was supposed to wait until a judge ruled on that challenge.  Instead, Verizon Wireless handed over the records five days before the ruling.

Verizon Guy
Verizon is happy to hand over your private info to legal threat firms. [Image Source: VZW]

The carrier's overzealous approach became more embarassing when one of the defendants's lawyers convinced Magistrate Judge E. Thomas Boyle to issue a stay of the subpoena.  Now Verizon Wireless's actions were clearly in violation with the ruling -- the only question was how the judge would deal with it.

The Magistrate who rejected the subpoena opted to clean up the mess created by Verizon Wireless by ordering the records be sealed and ordering the Malibu Media law team to destroy the copies they received.  It has also forbid the media attack-dog from using those records in court, unless -- for some reason -- the decision to quash the subpoena is reversed.

The decision is an embarassing one for Verizon Wireless who now has to explain to customers why it possibly illegally violated their privacy.  Verizon Wireless may face civil liability for failing to adhere to due process and exposing its customers' records as well.  Federal laws protect the privacy of citizens' telecommunications records in the United States.

letters in mail
Threat letters -- a tactic beloved by Batman villains and copyright trolls alike.
[Image Source: IWillLetters Blog]

The firm that successfully defended the citizens against Malibu Media's belligerence was Ray Beckerman PC, a law firm located in the Forest Hills region of the Queens suburb in New York City, New York.  Mr. Beckerman's firm has been a staunch critic of big media's mafioso-esque threat schemes, sentiments he summed up in a recent piece "Large Recording Companies v. The Defenseless."

The U.S. legal system has grown wary of late of big media's perpetual attempts to extort citizens whose IPs were implicated in filesharing traffic.  Perhaps part of that shifting sentiment is due to recent widely known studies that show filesharers are the biggest legal purchasers of media.  

Or perhaps the growing wariness it is due to the fact that most of these threat schemes are based on internet protocol (IP) addresses -- an inaccurate means of identification.  Or perhaps it is also due to the fact that big media companies have been found guilty or stood accused in several regions of committing massive for-profit piracy schemes, seizing independent artists "unclaimed" work and then making it difficult for them to collect their revenue.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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