If a Man claims that he won’t burgle a shop, and has “Safeguards” to prevent himself from doing so, but then burgles the shop anyway, can you imagine a Judge saying, “Oh that’s ok, you had ‘safeguards’ so that you wouldn’t do it, the fact you HAVE done it is irrelevant”, can you see this happening? No of course not, but in what can only be described as a “parallel universe” ruling, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has done just that.
BT who sent details of their Subscribers to ACS:LAW, didn’t even encrypt the Excel Documents. ACS:LAW had gone to Court with a list of IP addresses claiming that they belonged to “Copyright Infringers”, BT WITHOUT mounting ANY defence at Court to defend their Loyal subscribers, sent the documents to ACS:LAW with NO protection whatsoever.
The Documents contained the following information on over 400 Subscribers their names, Postal address, IP Address, Alleged date of infringement (Hit Date), Time (UK Date Time), and the Content Name.
On the Plusnet Forums, angry Subscribers wanted answers, they still do. A thread on the forum has attracted 130 pages, over 2000 replies and close to 100,000 views. They have STILL not got the answers regarding ACS:LAW. True Plusnet HAVE engaged with their subscribers on the forum, but they are stuck with having to deal with this issue via the BT Legal Team.
The ICO speaking to the Guardian said, The ICO closed its investigation into the apparent data breach earlier this month after ruling that BT was not liable for the mistake, which it said was committed by one of its employees. It added “Where it is found that the data controller has adequate policies and safeguards already in place, the usual and most appropriate outcome in these cases is disciplinary action taken by the employer”
Well we KNOW who that Employee is, his name is Prakash Mistry, he is the Senior Finance Manager at BT. Not sure about you, but I really don’t see much discipline happening there, do you? No ICO has acted shamefully in this, as the Solicitors Regulation Authority have in regards to ACS:LAW.
There seems NO justice for the man on the street in all of this and seems a classic example of a Corporation flouting the rules with impunity.
A letter from Prakash Mistry to ACS:LAW requesting a “Report”(A requirement of the NPO order RE Plusnet) into how many people had been taken to court, was met by an arrogant letter accusing those requesting the report on the forums were;
“… written by pro-piracy advocates with their own specific agenda” and “our client is taking away a method of obtaining their members copyrighted works without paying for them and that upsets those who have enjoyed free media this way”
These were outrageous slurs on their subscribers, met with SILENCE by BT.
These concerns of course can be dismissed, BT being a corporation (No soul to damn, no ass to kick) and ACS:LAW a one man band, whose Boss Andrew Crossley is now discredited in the eyes of many.
What can’t be dismissed is the LACK of protection afforded to those affected by the ICO, as with the SRA it seems they are toothless; ball-less, impotent shadows, paper tigers with all the bluster of action but with the movement and intent of a slug.
UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham told the BBC he had new powers, to act with fines,(Regarding ACS:LAW) of up to £500,000, but much like the BT “Safeguards”, that only works IF IT IS USED! Can we really look forward to the ICO doing much better with the case against ACS:LAW? We wait and see, but not holding any breath.