Sweden Advances New Bill to Crush FileSharing Users

The Swedish government is seeking new ways to support police and prosecutors in their fight against illegal file sharing over the Internet. As we’ve come to know the habits of the industry we’re not surprised that one of the main priorities is not to encourage new business models but to strengthen cooperation with Internet service providers to help reveal the identity of individual computer users.

Henrik Rasmussen, a prosecutor who specializes in copyright infringement crimes, shared his opinion on the matter in an interview for the TT news agency:

“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,” said Rasmussen.

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

Current law forbids ISPs from disclosing subscriber information to a third party unless the alleged crime under investigation is punishable by jail or a suspended sentence.

However, the constant efforts made by the govt to simplify the pursuit of filesharers has led it to a new bill, as The Local informs, which not only targets illegal file sharing, but also aims to reduce bullying and “grooming” over the World Wide Web. Internet bullying and other forms of online harassment are escalating problems in Sweden, as is grooming, whereby adults attempt to lure in children for sexual purposes on chat rooms. The issue here is that copyright holders and politicians have become extremely good at using such pretexts (not that those dangers are not real) likely to appeal to common people’s common sense to implement systems trough which they merely want to protect their interests

If the bill passes, police and prosecutors will have easier access to information on users suspected of illegal file sharing, irrespective of the gravity of the crime in question, Sveriges Radio (SR) reports. Collaboration with internet service providers will be strengthened, and the latter will be bound to communicate to the police any IP-addresses requested.

When it comes to alleged violations of copyright laws, copyright holders are entitled to solicit information about alleged file sharers from a court in a civil law trial. However, if the bill were to become law, police and prosecutors would be able to avoid that last step by going directly to ISPs to get the information they need on the internet users under investigation.

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

“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.”

Although the bill concerns all acts of illegal file sharing, Rasmussen believes that it will not really affect Swedish internet users who occasionally download a pirated movie.

“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.”