Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Odex redux

So the news is out: Odex has lost its appeal, and yet it has won because PacNet has been ordered to disclose the information requested for to the 5 Japanese studios represented by Odex (see CNA and Straits Times coverage). Subject to what the written judgment says, I think this decision shows that the courts will make sure that only suitable applicants will receive the information in question. That seems to me the right balance, between the interests of rights owners and the public.

But now I wonder -- are there any safeguards or restrictions on the use or distribution of the information by the 5 Japanese studios? In this case, PacNet owed pretty strict confidentiality obligations to its users, and I applaud it for fighting so hard to give real meaning to those obligations. But given the sensitivity of that information, should confidentiality also attach to the disclosures to the studios?

After all, if the courts would not have ordered the disclosure of the information to an agent, should it order disclosure to the principal, when it is almost invariably true that the principal will immediately disclose it to the agent for the agent to take action? Or perhaps conditional disclosure should be ordered, such that confidentiality of the information is maintained until and unless the information is publicly used in court proceedings. Otherwise, permitting such disclosures would significantly undermine the protections provided to the users under the telecoms regulations.

It remains interesting to see how the Japanese studios would use the information, and in particular whether they would disclose it to Odex for further action. That would make a mockery of the decision today, that Odex was not entitled to the information and yet the Japanese studios were. I hope that would not come to pass.


vertigoer said...

The ideal privacy policy for ISP to protect customer's privacy is to delete their log/tracking files.

Does gov mandate need of tracking info to trace terrorist? If yes, then let information be saved with the relevant high security department.

Odex can go request the special department for release of info if required.

Siew Kum Hong said...

To vertigoer: From my understanding, the ISPs generally maintain 90 days' worth of logs, for operational, technical and/or customer service/support reasons. I don't think the logs are provided to the government, unless a lawful disclosure order is issued to the ISP.

I for one am happy with this status quo. Your suggestion scares the heck out of me. I would rather have the ISPs hold that information, than centralised with a government department...

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