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VPNs used to defeat censorship and data retention in Sweden

Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) comments on research from Lund University. Around 200,000 young Swedes aged 15-25 have adopted anonymization techniques with products such as Relakks, IPredator and Mole. This is 15 percent of the whole age group. “We do not know today for sure how it looks in other age groups,” says the report (Google translation). “But a rough estimate, based on the recognition that other age groups do not share files illegally to the same extent, is that around 700 000 Swedish people today are choosing to by any payment service to hide their identity on the Internet, says Måns Svensson, PhD in sociology of law and project manager for the survey.”

The belief is that growing use of ISPs to locate file sharers will increase demand for anonymization. The European Commission (EC) is currently planning to review its Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED). According to Monica Horten at IPTegrity, however, the current timetable for this review has ‘been torn up.’ She quotes deputy director general Pierre Delsaux saying ‘we want to extend the public consultation on the review’ of IPRED with, among other things, a new questionnaire, focussing on the key issues arising out of the first consultation of last year.

Horten does not believe this will relax IPRED. “The problem with these kinds of follow-up questionnaires is of course,” she writes, “that they tend to be self-referential, and if the rights-holders set the agenda, as they usually do, then the questionnaire tends to home in on what they want.”

If subsequent EC action leads to an increased hunt for file-sharers, Svennson (reported in SvD) believes “there is evidence that the use of these types of services for anonymity will grow even faster.” IPredator is one of the most popular methods. It is a Swedish organization established in 2009. “Our main goals are to provide non discriminating (no shaping) and free Internet access for our users without logging,” it claims on its website.

SvD quotes the president of the Swedish Internet Infrastructure Foundation, “Where monitoring is increasing, both from government and from private players like Facebook and Google, so does demand, says Aerts. But I think it's good that there is access to anonymization. For example, when talking about the Arab spring like everyone in Sweden that it is good that they are able to remain anonymous. And it's weird if that would apply at home as well.”