‘Swedish anti-piracy and privacy laws clash’

Sweden’s recently enacted anti-file sharing law will be rendered totally ineffectual when the government implements new rules on the storage of personal data next year, according to the head of a Swedish internet provider.

'Swedish anti-piracy and privacy laws clash'

“The government has made quite a blunder. IPRED is destined to fail,” said Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung to the TT news agency, referring to the anti-piracy law which came into force on April 1st.

The new law is based on the EU’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) and is meant to allow courts to force ISPs to release information about users to aid the investigation of copyright violations.

Last week, a draft of a proposed amendment to the law appeared was leaked from the Government Offices. The document included a proposal to force all of Sweden’s telecom operators to save traffic data about internet users for at least six months, prompting critics to claim the measure was an unnecessary invasion of privacy.

Neither the Ministry of Justice nor Sweden’s Anti-Piracy Agency (Antipiratbyrån) would comment on the draft.

But Stockholm University law professor Cecilia Magnusson Sjöberg, a law professor at Stockholm University, believes the proposal could cause problems.

“It appears as if these rules are incongruous. It can obviously give rise to problems in the practical application of the law, not least for [telecom] operators,” she told TT.

“With the technical insight I have, I think it will be a challenge for operators to managed these two laws.”

Bahnhof’s Karlung believes the proposal will have unintended effects.

His company, as well as fellow internet service provider (ISP) Tele2 and others continually erase user data and therefore have no information to hand over should a court demand it under the IPRED-law.

But when the new data storage law comes into effect at the end of the year, all traffic data will be protected, included that collected by other major players in the broadband market like Telia, Comhem, and Bredbandbolaget.

The reason is that the type of data ISPs would be forced to store for six months under an amended IPRED-law can only be released to police and prosecutors to aid in the investigation of a serious crime.

But such data could not, according to the government’s proposal, be handed over to copyright holders as evidence to aid in lawsuits against illegal file sharers – which is precisely the power that anti-piracy groups have sought.

“The government has screwed up. This is an oversight. All the information that comes in is automatically protected and the consequence is that the IPRED-law won’t apply. It would be punishable to release the information,” said Karlung.

The government points out that the leaked amendment is a draft, and since it lacks the signature of justice minister Beatrice Ask, it doesn’t really exist in formal terms, despite being accessible on the internet.

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