Right across Europe, Swiss anti-piracy tracking outfit Logistep has been gathering information about alleged file-sharers and selling it to copyright holders. They then use the information to make a business out of threatening legal action against file-sharers in order to get cash ‘compensation’.
Currently there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of people in the UK being threatened due to the data Logistep gathered for the Two Worlds, Dream Pinball 3D and Colin McRae cases. Across Europe, Logistep has tracked tens of thousands of P2P users, hammering Germany and Italy in particular.
In January 2008, on the back of a European Union statement that IP addresses should be regarded as personal data, it was declared that Logistep breached Swiss privacy laws when it spied on P2P users. It was ordered to stop collecting data about them.
Now, in what could be the beginning of the end for Logistep, the ‘Garante della Privacy’ – the Italian organization for data protection and privacy – has declared that Logistep has been acting illegally by spying on P2P users without their permission. In summary, the decision is based on the following points, all related to privacy breaches:
1. It is illegal for a private company such as Logistep to monitor the activities of P2P users on the Internet.
2. The use of P2P software is limited to communication with other P2P clients for the purposes of sharing files. Such software cannot be used for monitoring P2P users.
3. It is illegal to monitor users without their permission. None was requested, nor granted.
In conclusion, the Garante della Privacy has ordered Logistep to delete the data they collected about Italian P2P users by 31st March 2008, as it was gathered illegally.
This news will come as a huge relief for Italian P2P users as they have been aggressively targeted by Logistep. Many thousands of users received threatening letters demanding payments for up to 400 Euros, some of them for sharing a single song.
Now that it’s been decided that Logistep itself was committing the offenses (in many locales, data protection offenses are criminal in nature), it will remain to be seen if people have any chance of getting their payments back, or intend to take legal action themselves against Logistep for a breach of their privacy.
Those affected by this on-going saga in Germany and the UK will take encouragement from this decision. One guy involved in the UK Dream Pinball 3D case told TorrentFreak: “There is no way I’m paying now, 100%. Two countries have said that Logistep are breaching privacy laws so i’m going to take my chances. See you in court boys!”