Well, more on data protection. A few people wondered why I have not blogged on acs:law. Oddly a few of my friends had not heard the story yet either! I was not sure whether to say anything or not - it is pretty well covered already.
For those that are interested there is a lot of underground coverage, but also some mainstream media such as BBC.
The long and short of it is that acs:law appear to be a bunch of wankers that have been exploiting people by sending demands for settlement out of court for alleged copyright infringement. This is the very industry that the recent and controversial Digital Economy Act is there to help. The evidence is often tenuous and the scam works by a major proportion of people paying up. This is helped by the fact that the accusations usually relate to porn or gay porn, which, even as an false accusation, nobody wants to be defending a court case for.
OK, that was all known for a long time - the fact their web site failed under load and coughed up a complete archive of emails and documents is what is the current story. This contains lots of personal information, and details of how the company operate. People can see what sort of scum these people really are now and how the operation works and the money flows.
Porn is an easy target as I bet lots of people have downloaded porn at some time or other (whether legally or not) and do not want the whole issue debated in court even if this specific file was not one they downloaded. Sadly, some people have had some real upset and concern caused by the accusations thoughm as can now be seen from some of the letters that have leaked. Do acs:law care? Well, it seems that if it is some pensioner than has only ever used the new PC to email relatives, they'll drop the matter, though this seems to be linked to the person having no money rather than any real concern for the trauma that has been caused. In one case acs:law apparently accepted and agreed that the person in question was not the infringer (must have been her now ex-husband) but still were happy to accept payment even though no payment was due under civil or criminal law. Paying someone to stop hassling you is the very definition of a protection racket, surely?
There are even web sites now that will take your postcode and see who near you has been accused of downloading what by acs:law!
Good news is A&A have never had to release customer details to acs:law, unlike many of the major ISPs who have had to comply with court orders from them. I am sure if we had have had a court order, and been unable to contest it, we would have had to release details to - we were lucky. The likes of Sky and BT were less fortunate and (it seems) working hard to do all they can for their customers who have had details leaked by acs:law.
Of course, I am just truthfully stating my opinion here, as a matter of fact. I have no proof either way that they are in fact a bunch of wankers or that it is a scam, but it is a true statement that such things are my opinion. To form your own opinion you can now read all of their emails, it seems. Given what has been leaked already, I doubt anything I could say here could be said to defame their character in any way... :-) P.S. acs:law is not a friend, see copyright statement.