Teksavvy Could be Liable for Infringing on Consumers Privacy Rights
After a lot of personal thought on this subject, I’ve decided that there needs to be one last response on this blog on this issue. I think I have an obligation here to my readers to respond. I’ve read both former CIPPIC lead counsel in the last file sharing case against BMG Howard Knopf’s recent post and telecom academic David Ellis’s recent blog posts on last Tuesday’s hearings. While Knopf’s blog focuses on the law of the issue at hand and consumers rights under that law, Ellis’s post is more suitable to a dramatic movie script with little substance explaining consumer rights.
A few months ago I started an online debate with respect to the privacy issues at play. A lot of very big academics and legal guys entered that debate as a result of me asking a lot of questions on the privacy issues relating to this case. What resulted, was those in support of Teksavvy’s move were arguing based on Teksavvy’s past reputation as being pro-consumer and that we should all wait for the end game to find out what they were up to. Those opposed where arguing law. We’re now at the end game.
These debates brought out some very important information. The oversight on our privacy system is very simple. If the evidence you receive on requests for customer’s information sucks so bad as it does right now, and you provide your customer’s information without objecting, you become liable as a business to any false accusations that arise as a result. So “guilty by accusation” only occurs when businesses do not up hold their legal responsibilities under current law. The law does need to change however. Specifically to throw businesses that do not act within accordance with the law under the bus, and kicked to the curb a few times, especially in this current climate where private interests are so strong on detailed user information ISPs keep on its customers.
The evidence within the Teksavvy vs Voltage provided is so bad (even Ellis agree’s there are substantial issues) that this could have been done and over with in November in 2012 had Teksavvy objected to the motion. Even if they end up appealing this case if information is ordered released, questions need to be posed as to why the CIPPIC was even needed here when this could have been done and over with in November. Why it’s taken so long to get here when the evidence is so bad? Why is Teksavvy putting up smoke and mirrors with respect to consumer rights, when acting as though they are a pro-consumer company when this case is an extremely simple one of privacy law and responsibilities of oversight? Just want to be clear I applaud the CIPPIC’s efforts here, but there was no need for them to be involved had Teksavvy dealt with this case properly. The CIPPIC did the best they could under these circumstances, it’s Teksavvy’s legal job to test the evidence before the courts on the requests not theirs.
Ellis paints a dramatic picture of Teksavvy’s legal counsel throwing in a last-ditch effort to ensure users privacy is respected if the judge throws an order to release that information. The fact is Teksavvy can be held liable if ANY information is handed out due to the evidence that’s in question in this case in accordance with the law, regardless of how Voltage tried to frame this with the evidence in Federal Court rules. A lot of innocent people could be targeted as a result of any future orders to release information. Considering Teksavvy’s legal advisers are not stupid, they should know all of this, and questions need to arise as to after all of this, Teksavvy is still not following through with its legal obligation to its customers.
The interesting part in all of this is Teksavvy’s decision not to oppose according it’s CEO was to bring online discussion on the matter. Openmedia promoted that discussion online. A lot of interested consumers and bloggers know where their legal rights lie in this case going forward as a result, and it should now be expected that Teksavvy follows through with those legal commitments or may end up being punished for not doing so by the customers they claim to protect and advocate for. I think their customers now are fully equipped to see past what seems to be dramatic movie scripts for a good legal drama that should be handed to Voltage producers (god knows they can use a few good script writers) from Teksavvy supporters, and see this as a matter of law and their rights on this issue. If that’s not the case here, than the door has just blown wide open, were all anyone has to do is accuse you of something to obtain your personal data from your ISP. That’s a lot of unnecessary risk to take to make a point at the very end.