A new anti-piracy law in Sweden has caused internet traffic to drop by a third.
The new law allows copyright holders to demand the personal information of file-sharers from internet service providers, allowing the copyright holder to pursue pirates as they see fit. The law came into effect on Wednesday and Netnod, a Swedish firm that monitors internet traffic in and out of the country, said that traffic fell from an average of 120Gb per second to 80Gb per second, a reduction of 33%.
Christian Engstrom, vice-chairman of the Swedish Pirate Party, was confident however, that the drop is only temporary, “Today, there is a very drastic reduction in internet traffic. But experience from other countries suggests that while file-sharing drops on the day a law is passed, it starts climbing again,” he said, “One of the reasons is that it takes people a few weeks to figure out how to change their security settings so that they can share files anonymously,” he added.
Reactions to the new law have been divided. Speaking to the BBC, Kjell Bohlund, head of the Swedish Publishers’ Association, said that before the new law came into effect, copyright holders were very limited in what they could do to protect their intellectual property.
“Before 1 April, the only thing we could do about illegal file sharing was to refer it to the police, who were very reluctant to take it on,” he said, “now we can go get the courts to force ISPs to disclose the user information of an IP address. In two weeks time, we will know exactly who owns that IP. We can then do nothing, ask him to stop, or sue him for damages. We won’t do this for small offenders, this is just for the big fish,” he added. One big fish that might be impacted by the new law is the torrent site Pirate Bay, whose trial is still ongoing.
On the pirate side, Mr Engstrom described the law as “a disaster”, saying “dealing with illegal file-sharing is a job for the police. It is their job to enforce the law. Now we have given private corporations the legal right to go after our civilians. That’s not how Western democracies work.”
Mr Bohlund acknowledged Engstrom’s concerns, agreeing that the law was not a long term solution, “Ultimately we have to change people’s perception on file-sharing,” he said.