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Law Firm To Publish Porn Download 'Name and Shame' List, Church, Arab Embassies Targeted

Posted by: , 13:25 AEST, Fri August 24, 2012

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A German law firm plans the unthinkable - to publish the names of up to 150,000 individuals alleged to have downloaded pirated content, including hardcore porn videos. Not only that, they plan to target churches, the police and embassies of Arab countries
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Image/Photo Credit: PinkMoose @ Flickr, CC

A German law firm plans to controversially publish a list of names of individuals and organisation that it says has engaged in unauthorized downloads, including the download of hardcore porn. More controversially, insiders at the law firm says the list will target those most vulnerable from these types of allegations - the church, police and even Arab embassies.

The firm, Urmann, has threatened to publish the list come September the 1st, a list containing up to 150,000 individuals. Urmann is one of the firms in Germany involved in the "sue for settlement" trade, where they obtain lists of IP addresses from public torrent swarms, finds the individual that owns the IP address, and then proceeds to threaten them with a lawsuit unless they pay the up to thousands of euros "pre-trial settlement fee". By targeting porn downloads, alleged downloaders are more likely to pay up to avoid public embarrassment, even if they're absolutely sure they weren't responsible for the download.

IP address evidence often isn't enough to identify a downloader - at best, it identifies the individual that pays for the Internet account, and courts from around the world have found IP address evidence insufficient to prove guilt.

However, this won't stop Urmann's plans to "name and shame", which is legal under German law. Under laws of other countries, such as the UK, the same action could be liable under defamation and breach of privacy laws.

But the most contentious aspect of Urmann's plans is, according to insiders, the strategy to target churches, police stations and embassies of Arab countries, where the "shame" will be the greatest. It does not seem to matter to Urmann that these largely public places, often with public or at least shared Wi-Fi services, means that anyone, even a passer-by, could have been responsible for the porn downloads in question.

Urmann's proposed actions have already come under heavy criticism, most notably from the German Pirate Party and hacktivist group Anonymous. The German Pirate Party, who won 8.9% of the vote in a recent Berlin election, described the move as "shocking". Anonymous has planned action against the law firm, saying they will "take care of it".


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