Sweden wants to force ISPs to save user data

Sweden wants to force ISPs to save user data
Internet service providers (ISPs) in Sweden will be forced to store customer data for at least six months starting in 2010, according to a new proposal from the government.

The proposal, which is still in its initial stages but was leaked onto the internet and reported on by the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, is an attempt by the Ministry of Justice to prevent internet providers from diluting a new law meant to make it easier to hunt down people suspected of illegal file sharing.

Under Sweden’s new anti-piracy law, which is based on the EU’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) and went into force on April 1st, ISPs can be forced by a court order to release information about users under investigation for possible copyright violations.

But because several internet providers, including Bahnhof and Tele2, continually erase customer data, the companies currently have no data to hand over should they be asked to do so.

As a result of the ISPs’ policies, the efficacy of Sweden’s IPRED-law has been greatly diminished.

In order to rectify the law’s shortcomings, Sweden’s Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask has laid out plans in an unpublished referral to Sweden’s Council on Legislation (Lagrådet) which would force ISPs to save information about their customers for six months.

A spokesperson for the justice minister, Martin Valfridsson, stressed that the proposal isn’t finished yet and that nothing is set in stone.

“There is no referral to the Council on Legislation. The government hasn’t taken a decision about any referral to the Council and until the government has done so, nothing is finished,” he told the TT news agency.

Word of the new proposal prompted the Pirate Party to issue a statement condemning the government’s plans, calling the suggestion a “mass-registration” of communications between individual citizens.

“Storing the data means that the state has a register of all contacts ordinary people have via the internet and the telephone, even though they aren’t suspected of any crime. It violates the constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights,” said Christian Engström, the Pirate Party’s top candidate in the European Parliamentary election, in a statement.

“The internet isn’t a playground where politicians get to do what they want. The constitution applies, even on the internet. We have the right to keep our private lives private,” said Engström.

Ministry of Justice legal expert Karin Walberg told DN that the government had hoped to present a government bill in June, following a review of the proposal by the Council on Legislation which was expected to be completed within a few weeks.

But the Pirate Party’s Engström theorized that the government had planned to wait until after the June 7th EU-parliament elections to officially release the proposal.

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