Federal Judge Ruling Issues In New Era of Non-Privacy

Never before has any judge declared that the memory footprint stored in RAM on computers was evidence. Now one has. CNET reports that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has asked the courts to rule that the small memory footprint that is stored in BitTorrent servers when users download videos from Torrent servers is evidence that can identify individuals downloading movies and television shows illegally.

The ruling passed down from the Central District of California orders TorrentSpy (and likely other Torrent companies) to begin tracking IP addresses from RAM.

The curious part about this ruling has nothing to do with the MPAA or TorrentSpy. The real issue, and much bigger, is the precedent set by the lower court. If this ruling is to stand, for the first time ever, temporary data in RAM would be considered under the law “Storage” and subject to subpoena. It does not take a whole lot of imagination to extrapolate how government and complainants can get access to information that they really shouldn’t have access to.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the online champion of privacy and freedom on the internet, is casting tentative support behind this sentiment. EFF attorney, Fred von Lohmann, states in an email to me, “We tend to agree. We’re looking into the case and may file an amicus brief in the coming weeks.”

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Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.