“Nymity, P2P & ISPs: The Implications of BMG (Canada) v Doe” in Privacy and Technologies of Identity: A Cross-Disciplinary Conversation, ed K.J. Strandburg and D.S. Raicu (New York: Springer, 2005).
This chapter, co-authored by Alex Cameron, provides an exploration of the reasons why a Canadian Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal both refused to compel five Internet service providers to disclose the identities of twenty nine ISP subscribers alleged to have been engaged in P2P file-sharing. We argue that there are important lessons to be learned from the decision, particularly in the area of online privacy. Although this case reinforces the right to online privacy, we suggest that the Court’s decision could have the ironic effect of encouraging more powerful private-sector surveillance of our online activities, and that this might result in a technological backlash by some in order to ensure that Internet users have even more impenetrable anonymous places to roam. Consequently, we encourage the Court to further develop its analysis of how, when, and why the compelled disclosure of identity by third party intermediaries should be ordered by including a broader-based public interest in privacy as an element in the analysis.