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Illegal file-sharing tracking firm working for 'three-strikes' HADOPI is hacked

The private company entrusted to track Internet pirates for the French government agency HADOPI, set up last year to combat the illegal file-sharing of copyrighted material, has been hacked, raising concerns about privacy and data protection.

Trident Media Guard monitors peer-to-peer networks and provides data that constitute the legal basis with which HADOPI implements its so-called three-strikes policy. Under the law of the same name, suspected illegal file-sharers receive three official warnings after which they are reported to a judge who can hand out a range of punishments, including disconnecting them from the internet.

Implemented in 2010, the controversial legislation went through several redrafts before it became law. An average of 5,000 letters are now being sent out every day to individuals suspected of infringing content online.

HADOPI Secretary General, Eric Walter, confirmed on Twitter that it had "temporarily suspended" links with TMG.

When anti-piracy firms monitor peer-to-peer networks for copyright infringements, they find IP addresses – the numerical code linked to a specific computer. Armed with this information, copyright holders can request that a judge forces ISPs to hand over the physical addresses associated with the IP address.

TorrentFreak said that their examination of files they obtained revealed that TMG had not only leaked out its own data, but that belonging to the Internet users it monitored. Numerama, a French publication that follows file-sharing issues, reported it had been able to show that IP addresses linked to the three-strikes policy may also have been leaked, an information HADOPI is said to be taking “very seriously.”

Last week, HADOPI reported the results of its second survey of consumer attitudes, carried out six months after the launch of the “graduated response.” The French government claims that the new policy starts to have the intended impact. Half of the 1,500 people surveyed said the new law “is a good initiative” while 29% are undecided and 21% disagree.

Some 50% of Internet users stated that the new law had encouraged them to use legal content services. The figure was 36% in October when the first survey was carried out.

Seventy-two percent of the respondents who knew someone who had received a warning letter as part of the three-strikes process said they had stopped or dramatically reduced their use of file-sharing networks.

Of the 93% of respondents who said they consumed illegally-accessed material, 38% claimed HADOPI has driven them to stop doing it, while 55% admit having moderated such consumption.

Story filed 17.05.11

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