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Sweden seeks new tools to aid file sharing hunt

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Sweden seeks new tools to aid file sharing hunt
14:45 CET+01:00
The Swedish government wants police and prosecutors to have more power to crack down on illegal file sharing by making it easier to force internet service providers to reveal the identity of individual computer users.

“I would no longer need to make a preliminary assessment of the penalties associated with the crimes I'm investigating. If I have an IP-address, I can request information about who the customer is, regardless of how serious the crime is,” Henrik Rassmussen, a prosecutor who specializes in copyright infringement crimes, told the TT news agency.

“Previously, I've only been able to request information if I judged the crime to be over a certain level.”

Today, investigators can only request subscriber information if the suspected crime is punishable by jail or a suspended sentence.

But in a bid to make it easier for police to hunt down individuals who hide behind IP-addresses, the government has included language in a bill designed to fight internet bullying and “grooming” that in principal will allow police to summon to an interrogation anyone who has downloaded a movie illegally.

In the bill, the government call for police and prosecutors to be able to request information from internet service providers (ISPs) about the users tied to IP-addresses suspected of illegal file sharing even if the crime in question is only a minor offence, Sveriges Radio (SR) reports.

Internet bullying and other forms of online harassment are a growing problem in Sweden, as is grooming, whereby adults attempt to make contact with children for sexual purposes, according to the bill.

The bill explains that, when it comes to suspected violations of copyright laws, copyright holders have the ability to request information about suspected file sharers from a court in a civil law process.

But police and prosecutors would be able to avoid the extra step, according to the bill, which, if it were to become law, would allow investigators to go directly to ISPs to obtain information that could help them identify users suspected of downloading pirated material.

The bill does not, however, change police powers when it comes to carrying out raids at the homes of suspected file sharers and will still require that the suspected crime carry stiffer penalties.

“We're still not going to be able to carry out search warrants for minor crimes,” said Rasmusson.

“But it will be easier for us to round up suspects and in cases where we will have other evidence than a raid. We can also conduct interrogations and it has happened that people who are summoned to an interrogation and faced with certain facts have admitted to the crime. That's something me may used to a greater extent.”

According to Rasmusson, the new bill should be a cause for concern for Swede who download a pirated movie from time to time.

“Sure, they would be worried to the extent that there is a real possibility that they can be identified if the bill is passed,” he told TT.

“But our experience is that the organizations that track copyright infringement crimes aren't interested in those who download one movie or a couple of songs.”

TT/The Local/dl

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