Google may conceal YouTube users’ identities when it hands a database of their viewing habits to Viacom International in response to a court order, Computerworld reports. Although Google must still disclose a database logging which videos were viewed and when, it may conceal the user ID, Internet Protocol address, and visitor ID fields showing who watched them and where from, the companies agreed July 14. Instead, Google will replace these fields with unique values preserving the relationship between them but protecting users’ anonymity.
Viacom filed suit against the search engine company and its video-sharing subsidiary in 2007, accusing them of illegally distributing its copyrighted content. In the discovery phase of the case, it requested information from YouTube’s user database. Online privacy campaigners were appalled at a judge’s order to disclose this information. Among them, the Electronic Frontier Foundation warned that it "threatens to expose deeply private information about what videos are watched by YouTube users." The July 14 agreement will go some way toward allaying those fears, although much will depend on the system Google uses to replace YouTube user IDs in the disclosed database…

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