My colleague Ryan Radia has a great post at the Technology Liberation Front about the Google-Viacom suit. Ryan points out that the discovery phase of the suit, where Viacom is forcing Google to fork over 12TB of YouTube viewing records, has put Google in a double-bind:
a. Argue that IP addresses are personally-identifiable information (PII) and that the company should not be required to hand them over to Viacom. But this would contradict statements Google made to the EU, claiming that since IP addresses alone aren’t PII, the search giant can legally retain such addresses for 18 months, a year longer than the EU allows PII to be stored.
b. Agree that IP addresses are not PII. But then there is no problem with giving them to Viacom. Google hands over the data, and the blogosphere explodes with vindictives against Mountain View.
Clearly, there is no good option for Google. The company was placed in this position by contradictory regulations in multiple jurisdictions – an inevitable result of attempts by national governments to regulate the internet.