New York Federal Court decision to compel Google to give Viacom YouTube users' viewer history

New York Federal District Court Judge Louis Stanton has ordered Google to turn over details about YouTube user's video viewing histories. New Media Rights talked with the San Francisco Chronicle's Technology reporter Anastasia Ustinova about this troubling decision, and its implications for privacy and its chilling effect on an open, participatory grassroots culture.

"The court's order grants Viacom's request and erroneously ignores the protections of the (act) and threatens to expose deeply private information about what videos are watched by YouTube users," Kurt Opsahl, senior attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote in a blog posting. "As Congress recognized, your selection of videos to watch is deeply personal and deserves the strongest protection."

Art Neill, an attorney for New Media Rights, a nonprofit consumer group, agreed.

"It's disturbing because there is a chilling effect for the online content," Neill said. "When big companies find ways to go after people, they use it beyond what the law allows them to do in terms of enforcing."

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