BT Fights Data Handover Request

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Following the recent ACS:Law data breach, BT said it will fight future requests for users’ personal information

BT said on Monday it has received an adjournment to a case in which solicitors’ firm Gallant Macmillan is demanding the ISP hand over the personal details of broadband subscribers accused of illegally downloading copyrighted material.

The ISP has handed out such personal data in the past, but said that in this case it is changing its tactics, partly in response to an incident last week in which such information was exposed to the public by law firm ACS:Law.

BT said that following that incident it would fight outstanding requests for users’ personal information.

Court order request

Gallant Macmillan is seeking a court order to force BT’s PlusNet, Be Internet and BSkyB to reveal the personal details of users accused of illegally downloading music owned by the record label Ministry of Sound. The case was due to be heard on Monday, but has been adjourned until 11 January 2011.

BT said it wants the case to set a precedent for how similar court-order requests are handled going forward.

“The incident involving the ACS:Law data leak has further damaged people’s confidence in the current process,” BT said in a statement. “We’re pleased that the court has agreed to an adjournment so that our concerns can be examined by the court, this will then act as a precedent/test case for the future.”

BT said it has asked for “stricter terms” on such information requests as “public concern has risen”.

Further action needed

“We want to ensure broadband subscribers are adequately protected so that rights holders can pursue their claims for copyright infringement without causing unnecessary worry to innocent people,” BT stated. “The data leak with ACS:Law prompted us to take further action today.”

ACS:Law’s website was taken offline by hackers two weeks ago. During the process of bringing the website back online, an archive of the site – which contained the personal data of users of ISPs, including BT’s PlusNet – was exposed to the public.

It later emerged that BT had transmitted the unencrypted personal data of more than 500 PlusNet subscribers to ACS:Law, which could put the company in breach of the Data Protection Act.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said it is investigating whether ACS:Law is responsible for disclosing the data, which could make it liable for a £500,000 fine.

The ACS:Law denial-of-service attack is part of a series of incidents forming what the hackers involved have termed “Operation Payback”. The continuing attacks took the websites of Ministry of Sound and Gallant Macmillan offline this week and, as of Tuesday afternoon, the site was still offline.

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