Verizon to ‘Spy’ on Its Customers for Disney?

23 Sep ’05

In one of the more ominous developments in a while, Verizon and Disney have announced a deal in which Verizon will forward to its broadband customers emails from Disney informing the customer that Disney suspects the customer of illegal file sharing.

From the press releases (here and here):

Under the agreement, Verizon would forward and track notices to its subscribers allegedly engaged in the unauthorized distribution of Disney’s copyrighted works, without identifying the subscribers to Disney, and either provide subscriber identifying information pursuant to lawfully served subpoenas or terminate Verizon Internet service provided to subscribers who have infringed Disney copyrights and received multiple notices.

I see no real difference between this and directly conscripting Verizon to do the actual spying (effectively, what’s happening is that the chain of the surveillance / investigation / prosecution is being unbundled and partly outsourced) – will that come next?

This is presumably a paid service by Verizon (directly or indirectly as a condition of getting the content) – so at heart, it seems to be taking money from third parties in exchange for facilitating the prosecution of investigations of its customers. I suppose we will now begin to see a whole new class of demands from the cartels that control content.

The pipe and the content are coming together – so much for dumb pipe.

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