Singapore telco provides user data in illegal download clampdown

M1 reveals it handed over customer information to a Singapore law firm involved in a case of illegal movie downloads, while StarHub says it also has received similar orders to do so.

[UPDATE 9 APRIL 2PM: This post has been updated to include comments from local ISP, MyRepublic.]

M1 says it handed over user information to a local law firm representing Dallas Buyers Club LLC, which alleged these customers made illegal downloads of the Academy Award-winning movie.

The Singapore operator said it was responding to a High Court order and provided the names, NRIC numbers, and mailing addresses of customers alleged to have downloaded the Dallas Buyers Club movie illegally.

According to a report by local broadcaster Channel NewsAsia (CNA), these customers had received letters asking for compensation and were told their information were provided by their telco. M1 told CNA it rejected Dallas Buyers Club LLC's initial request for information, but had to comply when a High Court order was issued.

The reported added that another local carrier, StarHub, also received the court order and was in the process of complying.

Local ISP MyRepublic told ZDNet it had not received any court order or request from Dallas Buyers Club LLP for customer information. Asked if it intended to contest any potential court order, a spokesperson said: "While the privacy of our subscribers is of paramount importance to us, we will need to understand the court order first--should we receive one--before assessing if we will comply."

MyRepublic's Teleport service, which is often compared to a VPN service, does not mask a user's IP address and, hence, will not prevent Dallas Buyers Club LLP from identifying IP addresses. This basically means the latter will be able to detect IP addresses of customers if they decide to illegally download the movie via the service.

The spokesperson emphasized that Teleport is not a VPN service and "doesn't facilitate access to illegal content".

Dallas Buyers Club LLC's hunt for illegal downloaders has extended to Australia, where local ISPs including iiNet are still fighting its attempts to obtain customer details for IP addresses, among others. iiNet had received letters from the firm involved in the case since mid-2013 and discovered the law firm had used a German company, Maverickeye UG, to monitor torrents and detect IP addresses that had "downloaded, uploaded, and/or distributed" copies of Dallas Buyers Club online.

In the Australian piracy case, users who downloaded a copy of the movie but did not make this available on peer-to-peer file-sharing services were not targeted. Some 4,700 customers were reported to have illegally downloaded the film Down Under.

According to another report by The Straits Times, more than 500 Singapore IP addresses from the country's three main ISPs--M1, Singtel, and StarHub--had downloaded the movie illegally.