RealTime IT News

Court Gives Dutch ISP Victory Over Hotmail, Free ISPs

Dutch ISP XS4ALL Internet B.V. scored a major legal victory for consumer privacy after an Amsterdam court upheld its right to publicize the privacy policies of Hotmail and several free Dutch ISPs.

The court also allowed the counterclaim of XS4ALL, finding that ISP Wanadooshould immediately discontinue advertising their guarantee that customers' details are not used by third parties, as Wanadoo is unable to support that claim.

In the ad campaign, XS4ALL posters publicized the not-so-private terms of use for several free Dutch ISPs and Hotmail, the Microsoft-operated free Web-mail service. Each of the free services state that they may sell customer information to third parties.

XS4ALL was sued by two free Dutch ISPs, Wanadoo and NokNok, as a result of its "Everything has it's Price" poster campaign.

Sjoera Nas, XS4ALL spokesperson, said Internet privacy in the Netherlands is now taken very seriously as a result of their ad campaign and the controversial lawsuits.

"The judge's verdict implies that Internet users should be informed clearly and precisely what the service provider intends to do with their data before signing up," Nas said." Hiding this information, or vaguely describing it, is clearly condemned in the legal decision."

In response to Dutch Internet privacy concerns, XS4ALL has partnered with Zero-Knowledge Systems to offer its customers total Internet privacy.

XS4ALL has opted to become one of 140 partners in the Freedom Network, a globally distributed network of servers hosted by ISPs and independent server operators in partnership with Zero-Knowledge.

Jordan Socran, Zero-Knowledge director of Internet partnerships, said that free services often come with a hefty price tag for online privacy.

"XS4ALL is proving to consumers that even free Internet service has a cost--often, the wholesale invasion of your privacy," Socran said. "This case sets an important precedent and shows that despite posting terms-of-service and privacy policies, many ISPs do not want their customers to know their personal data is being collected and sold."

Founded in 1993, XS4ALL is the third-largest paid ISP in the Netherlands. Well-known for their advocacy of privacy rights on the Internet, XS4ALL won a landmark legal decision against the state in 1998 concerning a request to wiretap an Internet user.