Verizon a Bit Overeager to Turn Over Records in Bittorrent Case
May 22, 2012 9:51 AM
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. (
) and Vodafone Group Plc. (
) 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 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.
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
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
inaccurate means of identification
. Or perhaps it is also due to the fact that big media companies have been
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.
"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay
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