Privacy prevails for YouTube users in Viacom case


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Party on, YouTubers. No need to worry about your privacy.

Google said late Monday that it has reached a deal with Viacom to protect the privacy of tens of millions of YouTube viewers. A judge had ordered Google, YouTube’s corporate parent, to hand over user data as part of the $1-billion copyright infringement case brought by Viacom.

According to the agreement, YouTube will mask the identities of individual viewers when it provides viewership records to Viacom. Among the things YouTube will cloak: user IDs and Internet protocol addresses (the unique numbers for each Web-connected device).


YouTube is handing over the database to Viacom under a court order that was widely criticized by privacy advocates and irate bloggers. U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton in New York dismissed such concerns. Viacom has said that, under the court’s confidentiality order, the data will be released only to its outside attorneys and consultants and can be used only in this lawsuit, not to pursue individuals. But Viacom remains interested in finding out if YouTube employees had viewed its shows on the site. That issue has not been resolved.

Viacom, which owns movie studio Paramount and cable networks including MTV and Comedy Central, requested the information as part of its lawsuit. It is seeking to show that YouTube has built its success by letting people post Viacom shows, including ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.’

-- Jessica Guynn