"Anti-piracy" tracking service illegal in Switzerland

An anti-piracy tracking company in Switzerland has been ordered to stop storing the IP addresses of people using P2P networks by a Swiss high court.

According to Torrent Freak the judge ruled Logistep had collected personal information without the owner’s knowledge – and crucially that this was a breach of privacy laws.

Logistep’s dodgy dealings have been going on for quite some time, allegedly, and although it ended in Switzerland the complaints began in France.

Back in 2007, Razorback, a non-profit group which previously administered the well known Razorback eDonkey server, alerted data protection authority Préposé fédéral à la protection des données et à la transparence (PFPDT) about the activities of Logistep.

Logistep’s service provides companies with the collection of IP addresses from people who are believed to be committing piracy and sharing client data over the net.  The IP addresses are then given to the courts for identification. Once found, Joe Bloggs receives a cash demand to make lawsuits go away.

Logistep’s activities came to light in France when hundreds of file-sharers received letters accusing them of sharing the game Call of Juarez. But Elizabeth Martin, the lawyer who did Logistep’s work in France, had her knuckles rapped after it was claimed she failed to declare her activities, making them illegal.

And she also came under fire from her colleagues. TorrentFreak uncovered a statement from a disciplinary boarded declaring: “By choosing to reproduce aggressive foreign methods, intended to force payments, the interested party also violated [the code] which specifies that the lawyer cannot unfairly represent a situation or seriousness of threat.”

And then it all went Bluetits up for Logistep in Switzerland.

In 2008 the Swiss data protection authority (Préposé fédéral à la protection des données et à la transparence) published a recommendation that Logistep stop collecting IP addresses in Switzerland.

Among other things it argued that it was unacceptable that Logistep had been collecting data without the knowledge of people involved. It also said the systematic collection and recording of data in order to track violations of copyright does not conform to the purpose of the P2P applications.

However, in 2009 it got its leg over when the Federal Administrative Court (TAF) overruled the 2008’s decision – saying that the services were needed to combat piracy

Préposé decided to appeal the ruling and yesterday it won a case which stated that its wheelings and dealings had been illegal. Logistep is unable to appeal the decision and is now facing a criminal case.

Deterrent it ain’t. It has decided to move its harvesting operation to Germany.