Another dark day in what is becoming a dark year for privacy advocates. An article on CNet reports that the US Government has once again sided with the Recording Industry Association of America in yet another example of dissolving rights to privacy in this country.
At issue is the appeal by Verizon (an Internet Service Provider) of a ruling by a court earlier this year calling on it to disclose information about its users to allow the RIAA and it's constituent companies free reign on persuing users of peer-to-peer networks.
Verizon, for their part, has done an admirable job of fighting this on constituational grounds (both Freedom of Speech and Due Process), although there certainly are other issues at stake for the company, such as the long- held belief that providing internet services should afford the same protections as providing telephone services, thus not requiring the ISPs (like their telephony counterparts) to monitor the use or content of users communications.
The Department of Justice (and I use that title very loosly at this point, in the light of the USA Patriot Act, the shrouding of Lady Justice in Cloth and the fondness for secret detentions and wiretaps by Mr. Ashcroft and his henchmen) has sided with the record companies and claims that "It is manifest that the DMCA's subpoena provision targets the identity of alleged copyright infringers, not spoken words or conduct commonly associated with expression."
Be that as it may, the appeals courts have yet to rule on this issue.