No intimidation and bounty hunter justice in Switzerland : IP address is personal data

Swiss Federal Supreme Court recently (Sept. 8, 2010) ruled against Logistep AG recognizing IP addresses as personal data, therefore subject to the Data Protection Act.
This much awaited and internationally watched decision is a clear signal that companies or industry groups cannot mandate private companies to substitute themselves to justice by intimidating or acting as bounty hunters in our society.
The second important outcome of this decision is the recognition of IP addresses as being personal information falling under the Data Protection Act. This is a step forward in the protection of privacy and personal information increasingly being discussed around the world.
This however should definitely not be interpreted as Switzerland being a piracy safe haven. Nor should it be considered to mean that pirating content is legal. It only recognizes this fundamental right to privacy in the digital realm and probably that copyright needs a major rethinking on a global scale (not in the traditional territorially based approaches (e.g., HADOPI in France), nor as highly controversial international treaties (e.g., ACTA).

At the end of the day and looking at the reactions of Logistep AG and other industry actors, it is sad to see that we’re still stuck in this old debate of an industry refusing to understand the world has changed, and consequently their business, looking at the issue as an opportunity rather than a threat. Dematerialized services are here to stay. We need to embrace this with the appropriate mindset allowing to accommodate all stakeholders. We have reached the limits of traditional legal approaches to such global issues. Join the conversation…

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