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Google Faces More Privacy Woes After YouTube Ruling

Stephanie Bodoni
Bloomberg [1]
Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4 (Bloomberg) — Google Inc. [2], owner of the YouTube video-sharing Web site, may be exposed to heightened privacy complaints from Internet users after a U.S. judge ordered it to give Viacom Inc. [3] a database about online viewers.

Google was ordered two days ago to turn over records of videos viewed on YouTube, the login name of viewers and their computer’s Internet address. Google already faces scrutiny over its storage of user data in the U.S. and Europe.

“The chickens have come home to roost for Google,” said Simon Davies [4], director of Privacy International in London. “If they were going to unnecessarily keep this information, there was always the chance someone was going to grab it.”

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Viacom, owner of Comedy Central [3] and MTV television networks, wants the information to find out if YouTube viewers watch copyrighted shows in an effort to bolster its $1 billion infringement lawsuit against Google. The ruling may lead some Web surfers to avoid using Google, which makes money based on traffic to and from its Web sites.

Google, owner of the most-used Internet search engine, has resisted attempts to get at its troves of user data. In 2006, the company fought a U.S. subpoena for months as it sought to assure users that their search records weren’t easily accessible. Google founder Sergey Brin [5] said it’s the Mountain View, California-based company’s “obligation” to protect users’ privacy.