Online anonymity comes under fire

Monday, 28 April 2003, 2:57 AM EST

Though Verizon recently lost its fight to keep two subscriber's personal information out of the hands of the recording industry, privacy advocates say the real losers are consumers.

Invoking a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Recording Industry Association of America subpoenaed Verizon to turn over the name of two of its Internet service subscribers, both alleged file-swappers.

Verizon had filed a motion to quash the subpoena, but on Thursday a U.S. District Court ruled that the company must hand over the name of the suspected pirates.

Verizon announced it would ask a U.S. Appeals Court for a stay of the ruling.

While RIAA president Cary Sherman cheered this week's ruling, saying it makes clear that "individuals cannot rely on their ISPs to shield them from accountability," privacy advocates were sorely disappointed. Several digital privacy experts said the decision failed to adequately consider the interests of individual subscribers.

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