Bureaucrats slam proposed piracy law

The Swedish Data Inspection Board has rejected the government's plans to crack down on internet piracy.

Under the legislative proposals, internet service providers (ISPs) could be ordered by courts to hand over details of suspected file sharers to copyright owners. The copyright owners could then use the information to take the file sharers to court.

“The Inspection Board’s view is that there are legal obstacles to the implementation of the proposal,” the organization said in a statement.

Speaking to Svenska Dagbladet, board advisor Hans Olof Lindblom cited an opinion published in July by the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, which indicated that the Swedish plans could break EU law.

“The sort of details that would be released are treated as confidential under EU data protection laws,” Lindblom told the newspaper.

In the opinion, Advocate General Juliane Kokott wrote that “a direct transferral to copyright owners who wish to carry out civil actions against breaches of their rights is not permitted.”

She added that European directives on data protection did not “limit the scope of data protection in favour of protection of intellectual property.”

Kokott’s opinion came in the case of a Spanish music company, Promusicae, which asked ISP Telefonica to hand over the names of subscribers who distributed its songs over file-sharing networks. If Kokott’s line is followed, it will mean that ISPs are not obliged to reveal personal data in civil litigation cases.

The Advocate General’s opinion is only advisory, and the European Court of Justice could decide to take a different approach when it rules on the case later this year.

The Swedish government said that Kokott’s opinion was “hard to interpret.” Rickard Wessman, spokesman for Justice Minister Beatrice Ask, told The Local:

“We believe that our proposal is compatible with the directive. We are now awaiting the result of the case in the European Court of Justice. We are also waiting for responses to our consultation exercise.”