ACS:Law data leak led to embarrassing piracy accusations

When ACS:Law’s email archive was leaked to BitTorrent servers after the predatory anti-piracy law firm was targeted by an Operation Payback DDoS attack, the firm’s questionable tactics were exposed for all the world to see. Unfortunately, however, the attack has resulted in problems for not only the firm’s employees, but also for some undoubtedly innocent people.

Citizen’s privacy watchdog organization Privacy International (PI) has reported that they’ve been receiving complaints from UK residents who are being accused of illegally downloading pornography from peer-to-peer online services, but had no broadband account with the ISP at the time the infringing act took place.

ACS:Law data leak led to embarrassing piracy accusations

“ACS:Law had sent a letter with allegations of infringement of copyright on a pornographic movie with the usual offer to settle for cash. This letter was followed by a second, both of which asked for £495 to make the matter go away,” TorrentFreak reported on Friday. “But there seems to have been a problem. Although it’s alleged that the person being accused had previously been a broadband subscriber with BSkyB, it’s claimed that the individual’s Internet subscription was terminated in 2007, some two years before the date of the alleged infringement.”

TorrentFreak detailed the allegations to Sky this week, and the ISP seemed to have no idea that the data they had supplied to ACS:Law regarding the cases had been inaccurate in any way.

“Neither the customer nor Privacy International have formally contacted Sky to provide evidence of this alleged incident or to complain about our handling of their data,” a Sky spokesperson replied.  “However, we have contacted PI to request more information. In the meantime, and in light of no substantive information or evidence, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further on this allegation.”

Privacy International refutes the claim that Sky had not been contacted by any of the victims, and sent off a message to the ISP in response to their claim.

“I will say that if you check your support logs you should be able to find more information as the victim contacted your support team directly to explain that you had passed on their details to ACS:Law despite them not being a Sky Broadband subscriber – however, your support team refused to discuss the matter with the victim,” Privacy International’s Alexander Hanff wrote to Sky on Friday.

Sky has not yet responded to Hanff’s email.

It’s a bad situation anytime someone is wrongfully accused of a crime, but the added element of pornography makes the situation a particularly embarrassing and damaging one for those involved. The firm is already facing a disciplinary review by the Solicitor’s Regulatory Agency sometime this year, and this new issue with likely not bode well in ACS:LAW’s favor.