EU legal advisor: disclosing identities of suspected copyright pirates "compatible" with EU privacy laws

Releasing pirates' identities is "Compatible With EU Privacy Laws," says a top legal advisor to the European Union's highest court following the discovery that the French government retains more than a decade of data collected about millions of people suspected of infringing copyrights. Andy Maxwell:

In closing, the retention and access to civil identifying data, corresponding to an IP address for the purposes of prosecuting online infringements, is described as "strictly necessary" and "wholly proportionate" to the objective pursued

"Such an interpretation is in my view inevitable," the AG notes, "unless it is accepted that a whole range of criminal offenses may evade prosecution entirely."

"Storing the data required to prosecute a crime is proportionate," yes, but they're not prosecuting people who shared Seed of Chucky on bittorrent in 2008 in France, which has a 5-year statute of limitations on infringement: it's a naughty list being kept forever to show that they can.

The EU's defenses of privacy, so often hyped in US media, are best understood as public management, not enforcement of rights. They'll put on a show of reconciling those rights, but the outcomes are matters of policy and can be as convenient and inconsistent as they need to be. Remember Szpunar's last line as a question—"but what if a whole range of criminal offenses may evade prosecution?"—next time you catch a scent of something unpleasant under European technocrat talk and want to understand what is happening to the human right under discussion.

The CJEU's summary and AG Szpunar's full opinion are available here (pdf) and here.