US Behind Swedish Internet Surveillance: Cablegate

The US pushed Sweden to introduce laws that kept IP addresses and other data of Internet users for a longer period of time as part of a larger agenda to go after people who share files online, according to several diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks.

In a March 2009 cable from the US State Department, the US embassy pushed the Swedish Justice Minister to present a six-step action plan that would let police know who was behind any Internet protocol (IP) addresses sharing files, that included shutting off the Internet connection of an accused party.

Previous rules in Sweden allowed police access to the identity behind an ISP in the cases where convictions would have resulted in at least two years of prison time.

A second cable from November 2009 detailed how Swedish authorities complained that the US-inspired rules did more harm than good.

“Swedish Police Enforcement officials are complaining that implementation of the [Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive] IPRED has made it more difficult to solve crimes. Swedish Internet Service Providers are saving user information related to IP-numbers for a shorter period of time following the IPRED legislation,” the cable said.

The Pirate Bay was also a target.

The document also exposed how the US worked on behalf of organizations like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to press for the prosecution of file sharing website The Pirate Bay.

“Behind the scenes, the Embassy has worked well with all stakeholders. After 18 months of investigation, the prosecutor filed indictments against four individuals for contribution to copyright infringement because of their activities administrating the Pirate Bay bit torrent webpage,” the cable said.

A 2006 letter (.pdf) from the MPAA to Swedish State Secretary also showed the US Embassy’s involvement in The Pirate Bay case.

“As I am sure you are aware, the American Embassy has sent entreaties to the Swedish government urging it to take action against The Pirate Bay and other organizations operating withing Sweden that facilitate copyright theft,” MPAA Executive Vice President John Malcolm wrote.

The file sharing website was temporarily shut down in 2006 after its servers were raided. Less than two days later, the website was up and running again.

A trial that took place last year found found four men connected to the website guilty of copyright infringement. Each was sentenced to one year in prison and fined around $4.2 million.

All four lost on appeal but had their sentences reduced.

The US Embassy in Stockholm wasn’t the only one involved in intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement. A September 2009 cable from the US Embassy in Paris described how the movie, music and business software industries played a role in the passage of a French law that forced ISPs to disconnect users from the Internet for up to one year if they were found in repeated violation of copyright laws.


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