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Viacom and Google: Stealing Your Privacy
By: Bruce Coker
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    2008-07-23

    Table of Contents:
  • Viacom and Google: Stealing Your Privacy
  • Useless information
  • Hostile to privacy?
  • Don't be evil

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    Viacom and Google: Stealing Your Privacy - Useless information


    (Page 2 of 4 )

    Furthermore, it is difficult to understand just how the information in question will help Viacom to build its copyright case. They argue that they need the data to demonstrate their claim that copyright-infringing material is more popular than that generated by users. On the face of it, aggregated information would seem to be sufficient for this purpose. As a result, the fact that they are seeking information that will allow them to individually identify not just the uploaders but also the viewers of copyrighted material has led to a slew of sinister claims and conspiracy theories about Viacom's true intentions.

    Suggestions that Viacom intends to sue individual viewers for copyright contravention are almost certainly wide of the mark, if for no other reason than the negative business impact any such an attack on its customers would have. It is also likely that any such action would be thrown out of court on the grounds of the data being improperly collected.

    However, the almost equally sinister suggestion that Viacom wants to get its hands on the data to pursue its own commercial agenda may yet turn out to have some truth to it. More than one blogger has expressed the belief that they expect Viacom to use the information to build their own database of viewers and their viewing habits.

    Whether or not such claims are true, or merely the inevitable result of Internet paranoia, there can be little doubt that Viacom are treading a perilous path by taking such a confrontational approach to YouTube. As discussed in a recent column, its unwillingness to embrace the new cultural models made possible by the growth of the Internet has already risked alienating substantial portions of their audience. If that wasn't bad enough, they are now trampling all over that audience's personal freedom to watch what it likes without somebody looking over its collective shoulder. If there's commercial wisdom behind this policy, it remains obscure.

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