A Swiss court has ruled that an anti-piracy tracking company can continue monitoring the public on the Internet. The court said that the need to fight illicit file-sharers outweighs the need to protect an individual’s privacy on the Internet, and that the ends justified the means.
In January 2008, infamous anti-piracy tracking outfit Logistep was criticized by the Swiss data protection commissioner for helping to breach the privacy of people on file-sharing networks. Logistep, which track file-sharers all over Europe, was given 30 days to stop collecting further data, or face further action.
It’s taken a while but according to a TSR report the Federal Administrative Court (TAF) has come to a decision, one which sees it overrule the Federal Data Protection commissioner’s decision of 2008.
The court said that the monitoring and data harvesting activities conducted by Logistep raise privacy concerns, since the individuals it monitors have no idea what data is being harvested and stored about them.
However, despite these worries the court decided that privacy concerns are trumped by the needs of the anti-piracy company, noting that a legal basis is not required for them to operate, since they operate exclusively in the private sphere.
The court said that the end justifies the means, since there are few other ways to deal with this type of online piracy. It would not be acceptable to turn a blind eye and allow people engaging in Internet piracy to avoid legal action, it said.
Logistep had (or still has) a partnership with lawyers Davenport Lyons and are currently working with lawyers ACS:Law to monitor and ultimately send threatening letters to alleged file-sharers in the UK. This decision by the court has no bearing on the UK cases, since it refers only to the monitoring of the Swiss public.
The verdict can be challenged within thirty days.