On Monday the first of two leaks was released on The Pirate Bay to expose the inadequacies of ACS:Law. The second came yesterday which has ACS:Law, a law firm mainly dealing with piracy issues, reeling in anger.
The first list contained over 5,300 Sky broadband customers thought by ACS:Law to be illegally sharing adult films. The second list again contains over 8,000 Sky broadband subscribers and 400 PlusNet users alleged by ACS:Law to have shared music or video files illegally.
ACS: Law worked with Sky broadband to detect net pirates and send out thousands of letters asking for compensation of around 500 per infringement or face a court appearance.
The troubled law firm produced lists containing the details of suspected pirates; details including names, addresses and IP addresses. In some cases details included how much compensation infringers paid ACS:Law and internal case notes.
This is without doubt a huge leak and one that has been coordinated through The Pirate Bay and 4chan. According to The Pirate Bay it comes as pay back for dismissive comments made by Andrew Crossley, the boss of ACS:Law, about their recent action against MPAA, RIAA and Aiplex.
He maybe regretting his comments as his law firm could be facing a fine of up to half a million pounds. This estimate comes from the UK Information Commissioner (ICO) Christopher Graham who is seriously concerned about the safety of privately held information. Mr. Graham will be looking at why this was able to happen, was the encryption and firewall adequate? Was the staff properly trained? Why was the information so easily accessible from the outside?
The UK takes the Data Protection Act seriously and this is being regarded as one of the worst breaches ever.
ACS:Law looks like it’s in a lot of trouble as it has been immediately cut-off by Sky broadband until further notice but it does not stop there. ACS:Law has long been accused of bullying tactics and many of the alleged pirates claim their innocence and say they have been wrongly accused by ACS:Law. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is currently investigating Mr. Crossley’s company over its bullying tactics.
These are troubled times for ACS:Law and for the larger anti-piracy community. The ICO says that ‘I can’t put ACS:Law out of business, but a company that is hit by a fine of up to half a million pounds suffers real reputation damage’.
The Anonymous are a group of hackers working through 4Chan and in cooperation with The Pirate Bay have caused a little bit of mischief but that is unlikely to go unpunished. It will be interesting to see who will be their next target in their mission to keep all information free on the web.
Alex Lund Luck