Twitter impressed all of us this week when they laid the legal smackdown on the state of New York over their attempt to subpoena Tweets from a member of the Occupy movement. It showed that some companies in the tech business still care about a consumer's privacy. In an even more surprising move, Verizon has apparently joined the club of companies that actually care.
TorrentFreak is reporting that a book publisher, John Wiley and Sons, went to court demanding that Verizon identify BitTorrent users who were caught pirating books in the "For Dummies" series. You would think that Verizon would just hand over the information and be on there way, but not so. They intend to fight this, not for themselves, but for the average Joe.
What makes this story even more amazing is that Verizon is not just standing up to a book publisher but the courts as well. John Wiley and Sons has a proper court ordered subpoena, but Verizon is refusing to comply with the order. Why? Because they know that the publisher is just another copyright troll hoping to score a few extra bucks by preying on the fears of people who probably need a "For Dummies" book to even use the Internet.
Verizon is arguing that the publisher only wants the information for "improper purposes." They feel that the publisher is going to use the information "to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation." They also know that an IP address does not equate to a person. Sending out random settlement letters to addresses based on an IP address more often than not hits the wrong person and ends up attacking innocent victims all in the name of copyright.
Verizon, a supporter of CISPA, is also citing privacy concerns for its consumers in regards to handing over the data. While I really want to point out the irony here, it's just good that Verizon is taking a proactive approach to consumer privacy, at least in this case.
TorrentFreak points out that Verizon is not acting out of self-interest in this particular case. In fact, if they complied with the subpoena, the publisher would have paid Verizon $45 per IP address. So it's pretty obvious that Verizon is becoming one of the good guys. Now if only Verizon could drop its support for CISPA.