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No deal yet in negotiations to protect YouTubers' anonymity

July 11, 2008 |  6:45 pm

There are signs of disagreement over the arrangement Google and Viacom have been trying to reach over protecting the anonymity of YouTube users. Youtube

Both companies had said they wanted to find a way to make YouTube users' viewing data anonymous before Google hands it over to Viacom, but are now dueling over the details.

Last week a federal judge ordered Google to turn over to Viacom its records of which users watched which videos on YouTube. Privacy advocates decried the ruling, saying it would expose the viewing habits of tens of millions of people. The ruling also raised questions about how much data Google and other Internet companies collect on their users.

Google and Viacom each said they would try to reach a deal that would protect the anonymity of the site's users. Neither company would discuss the hitch in the negotiations, which they said were private.

In a written statement, Google's senior litigation counsel Catherine Lacavera said: "If Viacom refuses to allow us to anonymize viewing history, we will seek review by the court."

Responding in a dueling statement, Viacom spokesman Jeremy Zweig said: "Viacom suggested the initiative to anonymize the data, and we have been prepared to accept anonymous information since Day One. We hope that Google will turn its focus back to anonymizing the data they are required to deliver, and spend less time making statements about why they won’t get it done."

Stay tuned.

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo courtesy of YouTube

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