At least that is apparently what Judge Louis Stanton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York thinks. He has ordered Google to turn over 12 terabytes of data to Viacom. This data contains PERSONAL information on all YouTube users who have created an account and viewed videos. This data contains user ID's, IP addresses and viewing/uploading history. Obviously this does present a teeny bit of a privacy concern. The good Judge Stanton dismissed Google's privacy concerns as "speculative". That's like saying if you put a unpatched Windows XP machine on the internet w/ a public IP address you MIGHT get pwned. Give me a break.
Viacom has NO need for all of this information. If they want to know who uploaded what that is a different story. To say that they need to know who watched what is a violation of our privacy rights. This article from ComputerWorld reporter Heather Havenstein has a good write up on the ruling along with this quote from Michael Arrington
"Handing over user names and a list of videos they've watched to a highly litigious copyright holder is extremely likely to result in lawsuits against those users that have watched copyrighted content on YouTube," he wrote. "[The judge] clearly doesn't understand that far more data is being transferred than is necessary to comply with Viacom's core stated concern, which is to understand the popularity of copyright-infringing v. non-infringing material.
"Viacom has asked for far more data than that, and there's only one use for that data: to sue individual users (or shake them down via the threat of lawsuit, which has been perfected by the RIAA) who have watched a few music videos or television shows on YouTube,"
That's right, he said coming after you and me for watching these videos. Some would say that is far fetched but when you look at what the RIAA has done to some who share music then you kinda begin to think that there is some credence to this.
This is also just more proof that those in the legal profession need to have a better understanding of technology and the implications of what may happen when they order things such as this. Fear that this data may be used beyond the scope of the order are not speculative. Even if Viacom doesn't use the data to come after viewers it could be compromised and then users could be blackmailed or publicly embarrassed for their viewing habits.