South African ISPs Asked to Reveal Personal Data of File-Sharing Lovin’ Subscribers

South African ISPs Under Pressure to Reveal Personal Data of File-Sharing Lovin' SubscribersSouth African ISPs are bombarded with requests from copyright owners to hand over personal data of ADSL customers downloading unauthorized content via BitTorrent file-sharing clients

Reportedly, many of the country’s ISPs have received requests from copyright holders to give away personal information of their subscribers suspected of illegal file-sharing.

Fortunately, for the subscribers, however, it seems that most local ISPs are not really anxious to comply with the requests and release the confidential info partly because they do not adhere to local laws.

Mybroadband.co.za published comprehensive material on the issue which we’ll reproduce below:

Cybersmart CEO Laurie Fialkov said that they are receiving requests for subscriber information related to alleged copyright infringements all the time. These requests, said Fialkov, typically come from Sony.

The requests for Cybersmart subscriber info are typically aimed at BitTorrent users who have allegedly pirated movies or music.

Fialkov said that they do not provide any information to the companies because they have no jurisdiction in South Africa.

“Unless they follow the procedure outlined in the Regulation of Interception of Communications and provision of communication-related information Act (RICA), we are not obliged to provide them with any information. So we don’t,” said Fialkov.

Web Africa CTO Alan Kirton also confirmed that they receive requests for personal information from third party companies servicing the large media houses.

These requests, said Kirton, are nearly exclusively related to the use of BitTorrent services.

“The standard request is to disable the account while maintaining any evidence that may be relevant in a lawsuit,” said Kirton.

Kirton said that they do not act on these requests. “Web Africa takes the view that it is not responsible for policing the internet and will only act where required by South African law,” said Kirton.

Axxess marketing director Franco Barbalich said that it has been a long time since they have received a request for personal information.

Barbalich said that the previous requests came from the official content distribution companies, and were aimed at torrent users.

Barbalich said that they do not hand out any personal information of clients unless they get a court order. They do, however, forward the request to the client.

Curiously many other local ISPs said that they have not received such requests. Openweb, Vox Telecom and MWEB have all said that they have not received requests for the personal information of their subscribers on alleged copyright infringement grounds.