BT granted delay in handing over file-sharer info

BT yesterday avoided being forced to hand over the details of customers alleged to have illegally downloaded music, in a case that's set to become a test for the right of lawyers to obtain file-sharers' info.

The telecoms giant requested an adjournment in a case brought in the High Court against its ISP subsidiary, PlusNet, by London legal firm Gallant Macmillan, acting on behalf of record label Ministry of Sound.

BT's lawyers argued that in order to obtain user data, solicitors should at least prove that their illegal file-sharing allegations have some basis.

Justice Master Winegarden granted the request, and the case will now be heard on 12th January 2011.

The move comes just days after fears were raised over the measures law firms take to secure confidential user information.

As a result of a hacker attack, the email database of legal practice ACS Law was leaked onto a number of file-sharing sites, exposing personal details of at least 13,000 broadband users. The incident could see the firm fined £500,000 for failing to adequately protect the data.

BT also came under fire when, as a result of the leak, it was discovered the telecoms company had customer details to ACS Law in unencrypted emails. BT has assured customers that "this type of incident will not happen again".

Speaking to the UK Guardian newspaper, BT said: "The incident involving the ACS Law data leak has further damaged people's confidence in the current process. We're pleased that the court has agreed to an adjournment so that our concerns can be examined by the court, this will then act as a precedent/test case for the future."

The attack on ACS Law was carried out by a group of hackers called Anonymous, as part of a series of attacks on high-profile anti-piracy targets around the world, dubbed 'Operation Payback'.

Anonymous were at work again at the weekend, bringing down the websites of Ministry of Sound and its solicitor Gallant Macmillan using Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

Both sites were still unavailable at the time of writing.

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