French ‘Three Strikes’ Anti-Piracy Law On Hold After Data Breach

In the developed world, the nation that’s arguably toughest on online copyright infringers is France. The country passed a controversial “three strikes” law back in 2009, which allows the government to block internet service for its citizens when they are subject to repeate complaints from copyright owners.

But this week, enforcement of that law-which is also called the HADOPI law, named after the French government agency that enforces it-is on hold. That’s because the company that does the data collection used in enforcing “three strikes” has suffered an apparent data breach. The data includes IP addresses linked to the 3-strikes process-in other words, numbers that could identify suspected file-sharers that the government is watching.

The HADOPI agency has “temporarily suspended its interconnection” with Trident Media Guard, the only data collection company authored to do this work on behalf of the French government, according to the TorrentFreak blog, which first reported the news.

The data leak is surely a source of embarassment for the French government. One of the main arguments used by opponents of “three strikes” schemes is that the enforcement agencies and companies will inevitably make mistakes, and this data security issue will reinforce that image.

Now, French news agencies have reported that the “three strikes” program will continue, but the Trident data-collection company will actually hand data about file-sharers over to the government on physical media, and not transmit it electronically. Again-that’s hardly making this company look like the tech-savvy watchdog it needs to be if it is going to maintain its credibility.

U.S. entertainment companies have actively lobbied for three strikes laws to be passed in other countries as well, and have had some successes, most notably in New Zealand. But the companies have made little progress stateside.