Viacom, YouTube agree to mask user data

YouTube will be allowed to mask important user information from records it must turn over to Viacom, Google said in a blog post Monday.

"Viacom and the other litigants have backed off their demand for YouTube user viewing histories," Google said in a statement. "We have reached agreement to anonymize the data."

A Viacom spokesman declined to comment.

The move comes after a federal court earlier this month ordered Google's YouTube to hand over usernames, IP addresses, and viewing histories to Viacom, parent company of Comedy Central and MTV. This ignited a controversy over Internet privacy and put Viacom on the defensive.

Last year, Viacom accused Google's YouTube of violating its copyright in a $1 billion lawsuit. Following the court's order, Viacom was widely criticized for intruding on people's online privacy even though the company had said it never asked to receive personally identifying information.

To this point, the agreement appears to make everyone a winner: Viacom will look like a responsible Internet citizen, Google will no doubt be credited for standing up for Internet rights and most importantly, and YouTube users don't have to worry about their privacy.


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