Thursday, July 28, 2005

Austrian ISPs Have to Hand Over Customers' IDs

Back in April an Austrian court decided that legally an (dynamic) IP address was the equivalent of a telephone number, thus covered by the low(er) privacy protection regime for metadata, instead of the telecommunications law regime. Now the Austrian Supreme Court (Oberste Gerichtshof) has confirmed this reasoning and decided that ISPs must hand over the names and addresses of their customers to rightsholders in case of infringement (decision July 26th). The Supreme Court thought it irrelevant whether the IP address was static or dynamic, and that constitutional, data protection and telecom provisions were deemed no barrier to the obligation of the providers.

A jubilant Austrian music industry has said that the Supreme Court has given a substantial decision, which will take effect immediately, "in the fight against file-sharing, but also other law breaking on the internet". The head of the Austrian division of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, Franx Medwenitsch, said in a press release [German]: "For law breaking there is definitely no anonymity on the internet, with which many file-sharers obviously speculated".

For a background on other European court decisions related to ISPs and customers' IDs, see the following posts:

CoCo: Dutch ISPs Don't Have to Provide Customer's IDs to BREIN
CoCo: Irish High Court Orders Release IDs File-Sharers
CoCo: Sweden: Anti-Piracy Group Broke Data Protection Laws
CoCo: European ISP's Liability Battles (Also on German court decisions)
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Thru Heise [German]

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