Corporate Eye

Viacom – The Mrs. Kravitz of the Internet

Remember Mrs. Kravitz, the nosey neighbor from the 60s television show, Betwitched? If there was anything going on in the Stevens’ household, you can bet Mrs. Kravitz knew about it!

Privacy issues on the Internet have long been a debatable topic for quite a while. Users take great offense to being “Big Brothered” and having their viewing and purchasing habits scrutinized under watchful, bullying eyes.

In a consumer-angering move, Viacom sued Google-owned YouTube to the sum of $1 billion dollars for the right to access their customer’s information regarding their viewing habits and IP addresses. Needless to say, this move got quite a few people upset enough that some are taking action. What’s even scarier is that Viacom feels that they have a right to this information, without having even gotten permission from the users. They want to “see” what the viewers are viewing and from what ISP address they are viewing it from. Consumer’s privacy issues will possibly be compromised and every move we make will be noted by the great Viacom.

Mrs. Kravitz is watching. 

So, how does Viacom feel about being called names like bully, or watchdogs or worse, meanies? In their defense, they noted on their website the details of what they will be extrapolating from the information derived from the YouTube files:

A recent discovery order by the Federal Court hearing the case of Viacom v. YouTube has triggered concern about what information will be disclosed by Google and YouTube and how it will be used. Viacom has not asked for and will not be obtaining any personally identifiable information of any YouTube user. The personally identifiable information that YouTube collects from its users will be stripped from the data before it is transferred to Viacom. Viacom will use the data exclusively for the purpose of proving our case against You Tube and Google.

Viacom has been in discussions with Google to develop a framework to share this data. We are committed to a process that will not only comply with the Court’s confidentiality order, but that will also meet our commitment to the strongest possible internet privacy protections.

It is unfortunate that we have been compelled to go to court to protect Viacom’s rights and the rights of the artists who work with and depend on us. YouTube and Google have put us in this position by continuing to defend their illegal and irresponsible conduct and by profiting from copyright infringement, when they could be implementing the safe and legal user generated content experience they promise.

Viacom states that they will only use the information to prove their case of copyright infringement against YouTube, and for nothing else. It is likely that people are not upset about the idea that they (Viacom) wants to protect their material, but that they are accessing files and then will “dispose” of the private, intrusive information portion. Likely not. Viacom has somehow successfully tainted their name in the communications industry and to the average consumer as being nosey – Mrs. Kravitz’s style.

“By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Viacom’s complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression,” Google said in answer to Viacom’s March 13 suit.

This change will drastically affect the way consumers view the entertainment media. They will hesitate before they download or participate in surveys. They will think twice before they upload materials onto certain web portals. Finally, they will always wonder if someone, somewhere is watching their every move, noting their most intimate written thought or images or looking out at you through their stadium-sized computer monitors.

Yes, someone will be watching. And you’ll only wish that it were Mrs. Kravitz.


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Bridget Wright

Writer, Blogger
I am a freelance writer, blogger and professional motivational speaker. I primarily focus on business content, offering my clients strategic marketing strategies for their businesses. I have been an entrepreneur for over 13 years, after having worked extensively in corporate America.