Canadian EasyDNS threatened with criminal action by German lawyer firm for not violating client privacy

In its response, easyDNS informed Fechner that it does business respecting Canada's privacy law.


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Canada-based EasyDNS ISP and web hosting service announced on its blog that it is being threatened with legal action by a German law firm, demanding access to the personal data of one of easyDNS customers.

Fechner Law is representing the copyright owner of a photograph that was allegedly used without permission by a EasyDNS customer on their website. In 2016, the German law firm asked for the content to be removed, and for the customer – whose identity remains unknown to them – to pay compensation, plus legal expenses, in the amount of 1,481 euro.

Fechner’s message demands that easyDNS – who in this case acted only as a registrar rather than a DNS provider or web host – disclose its customer’s name and email.

It took almost three years for this correspondence to reach Canada – because the German lawyers apparently kept using the wrong email address, so a physical letter only recently reached the ISP. The reply easyDNS sent seems to have cited its obligation to protect customers’ privacy, because Rober Fechner, of Fechner Law, then sent an email opening with, “I appreciate your alleged concern for your users’ privacy.”

Other than appearing to be bluntly hostile, this is a suggestion that the ISP might not in truth care about its customers’ privacy – a claim that could be very damaging to its reputation as a privacy-focused company.

Next, Fechner labors under the impression that German law can be imposed onto Canadian businesses, who operate under their own country’s legal constraints.

From: Robert Fechner <[email protected][redacted].com>
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2019 22:20:25 +0200
Subject: [Redacted] / MyPrivacy.net [14-00380]

Dear Mr Jeftovic,

I appreciate your alleged concern for your users’ privacy.

Nonetheless, according to OLG Frankfurt a. Main, Urteil v. 22.8.2017,
Az. 11 U 71/16 you have to provide us at least with a name and e-mail of the infringer.

If you fail to comply with the law, further proceedings will be to file a criminal complaint against you in order to acquire this information on the basis of § 14 II TMG.

In this case, additional damages due to your uncooperative and unlawful behaviour will be claimed.

We await your reply until 20.09.2019.

Sincerely,

Rechtsanwalt Robert Fechner
FECHNER LEGAL

And lastly, he threatened easyDNS with a criminal case against should the company fail to provide the requested data – citing throughout German law and German legal precedents and accusing the Canadian ISP of “uncooperative and unlawful behavior” that might cost them more money.

In its response, easyDNS informed Fechner that it does business respecting Canada’s privacy law, while the country’s copyright rules obligate it to forward copyright notices to customers.

In addition, easyDNS explained – customer’s data can be revealed only based on a court order, subpoena, or warrant. Specifically, given the ISP’s location, such a request would have to be “lawfully executed in the Province of Ontario” – that is to say – rather than by a Berlin-based law firm.

“We wonder out loud if the German bar association would have anything to say about one of their own abusing their position and misrepresenting the law in this manner,” concludes the response of easyDNS emailed to Fechner Law.

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Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovic is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovic is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]