French three strikes activity suspended after alleged data leak, say reports

Out-Law News | 18 May 2011 | 5:04 pm | 1 min. read

A French Government agency is not acting on new information gathered about potential piracy on the internet because the company that provides it with the information may not have secured the data it records, according to reports.

The French Government set up an antipiracy unit called HADOPI after passing an anti-piracy law in 2009. HADOPI allows the music and film industry to hire private firm Trident Media Group (TMG) to identify illegal downloaders online. The firm monitors activity on file-sharing websites and records the IP addresses of users.

When HADOPI receives a complaint from copyright holders the agency can begin a 'three-strike' process to blacklist and punish infringers.

Under French law judges can punish illegal file-sharers when they are issued with three warnings about their online activity. The judges' 'three-strike' powers extend to authorising the disconnection of illegal downloader's internet connections. French politicians had initially rejected the law and expressed dissatisfaction over entrusting a private company with securely storing information about the public.

The UK is in the process of establishing a three strikes law, although as yet there is no proposal for disconnecting users.

HADOPI has now "temporarily suspended" working with TMG, according to a Twitter message posted by Eric Walter, the head of HADOPI.

Last week security researcher Olivier Laurelli claimed he was able to access information TMG recorded about internet users through a TMG server.

Laurelli claimed he was able to look at IP addresses, he revealed in a blog.

"The server does not protect everything," Laurelli said on the blog, according to an automated translation.

TMG chief executive Alain Guislain said that the data found by Laurelli was from a test server.

"These data are from a test server of the company dedicated its R & D," Guislain said, according to a translation of a report on the French ITespresso website.

Guislain said that the systems used for HADOPI work had not been impacted.

"No confidential data and personal has been published on the internet. The production facilities of the company ... specifically those dedicated to the collection on the Internet are secure and not compromised," Guislain said, according to the translation.

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