May 23, 2017

American Airlines Flies Subpoena To Google

An excerpt of a copyrighted training video that showed up on Google Video has led American to demand the identity of the uploader via a subpoena.

The greatly-loathed Digital Millennium Copyright Act takes center stage again, as a subpoena filed under its provisions by American Airlines has been issued to Google. American wants all the information related to who may have uploaded part of the “Flight Attendant, Upside Down” training video to Google Video.

Google does obey requests made under the DMCA, but is playing a delaying action against American by forcing it to go to federal court to request the subpoena, Mercury News reported. This gives the person who posted the video a chance to respond to the request and file an objection.

Google may have to comply with the subpoena, an outcome EFF legal director Cindy Cohn described as likely in the article. Compliance will end any illusion of privacy expectations people may still cling to as Google battles the Department of Justice over its subpoena for information from Google’s databases about searches performed at the site:

The airline’s request highlights the limited protection of anonymity online. Although many Web sites say they will protect users’ privacy, many also say they will turn over some material in legal disputes — for example, copyrighted material.

“Hosts like Google won’t be able to protect your anonymity, and in many instances won’t be interested in it,” Cohn said.

The issue comes at a time when Google is thought to be interested in persuading its users to keep all of their data on company servers. A product called GDrive generated lots of chatter when details of the service were inadvertently revealed as part of an Analyst Day presentation Google held recently.

Google also made a “Search Across Computers” feature available for users of the latest release of the Google Desktop beta product. Data made available by a person for use with Search Across Computers will store a 30-day temporary copy of that data on a dedicated subset of Google’s servers.

If businesses or individuals can pry that data from Google with a simple subpoena, that could erode demand for or usage of such services.

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David A. Utter
About David A. Utter 271 Articles
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.