EFF Media Release regarding consumer privacy amicus brief in RIAA v. Verizon

For Immediate Release: Friday, August 30, 2002

Electronic Frontier Foundation, Verizon Guard Client Privacy

Consumers v. Recording Industry on Peer-to-Peer Anonymity

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

Washington, DC - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and eleven other consumer and privacy groups today sided with Verizon in its struggle to protect customer privacy.

The groups urged a federal court to prevent the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) from forcing Internet Service Provider Verizon to identify a customer the RIAA has accused of offering infringing music on a peer-to-peer system.

"The court should require careful judicial consideration of facts supporting any accusations and hear the other side of the story before violating the privacy of an Internet user," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "The RIAA asked the court to throw a long history of protection of anonymous speech out the window as soon as someone suspects copyright infringement on a peer-to-peer system."

EFF, along with over a dozen other groups, including the National Consumers League, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Media Action Project, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and the nation's oldest general farm organization The Grange, filed a "friend of the court" brief urging that the same strong protections that apply for anonymous speech in other contexts also apply for claims of copyright infringement.

"The right to anonymous speech is as old as this nation," noted Megan Gray, who wrote the brief on behalf of the groups. "The authors of the Federalist Papers relied on anonymity and a growing body of law recognizes that anonymous Internet speakers deserve the same anonymity protections as those who use pen and ink."

"Our privacy and free speech rights should not be collateral damage in the RIAA's war against the digital music revolution," added Cohn.

The groups who have signed on to the consumer privacy amicus brief are, in alphabetical order:

  • Alliance for Public Technology
  • Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
  • Consumer Alert
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Electronic Privacy Information Center
  • Media Access Project
  • National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry
  • (Grange)
  • National Consumers League
  • Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
  • Privacyactivism
  • Public Knowledge
  • Utility Consumers' Action Network

RIAA v. Verizon was filed in Washington, DC, federal district court.


EFF and other groups' amicus brief in RIAA v. Verizon:

For this release:

RIAA v. Verizon court documents:

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most-linked-to websites in the world at http://www.eff.org/


Cindy Cohn

Legal Director

Electronic Frontier Foundation


+1 415 436-9333 x108 (office)

Megan Gray


Gray Matters


+1 202 265-2738 (office)

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