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Bork, Bork, Bork - Sweden bombs the Internet

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Following the introduction of the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive, better known as IPRED, which became law on Wednesday last week, the amount of Internet traffic has plummeted by as much as 40 percent according to the Netnod Internet Exchange which measures such things.

Sweden has perhaps been best known, until now, for ABBA, Greta Garbo, tennis players who sell underwear and that chef on The Muppet Show. Bork Bork Bork. That, and being host to the Pirate Bay which is the largest and certainly the most notorious BitTorrent tracker on the face of the planet. Described by the Los Angeles Times as "one of the world's largest facilitators of illegal downloading" the Pirate Bay has been in the news most recently for the ongoing fight against the Swedish authorities.

One of the most Internet-connected countries in Europe, Sweden enjoys average broadband speeds in excess of 8 Mbps, rising to 50 Mbps in parts. Or perhaps I should have said enjoyed, considering that nearly half the countries Internet traffic seems to have disappeared overnight with the introduction of what many see as a Draconian law to fight illegal downloaders.

Sweden certainly seems to have dropped a bomb on the Internet, that is for sure. It is believed that as many as ten percent of Swedes use peer-to-peer services for such downloads, with the Pirate bay being the best known service of course. But IPRED now obliges ISPs to hand details of such activity and who is participating in it to the owners of the copyrighted material being downloaded, assuming a court considers there to be enough evidence of law-breaking that is.

The point being, that many Swedes would appear to be running scared at the moment, concerned that they might end up amongst the first to be charged under the new law.

Already publishers are starting to throw the lawsuits around, seeking to identify those who have downloaded their wares. The chair of the Swedish Publishers' Association, Kjell Bohlund, told the Guardian newspaper reports that illegal filesharing "has hit writers, publishers, and internet book retailers financially, and there is a longer-term risk that publication will decline".

Not everyone agrees it will work though, take the folks at Fudzilla who point out that "in 24 hours 384,657 Swedes were connected to the Pirate Bay tracker alone. That is close to 5% of the Swedish population, and no less than before."

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Davey Winder

I'm a hacker turned writer and consultant, specialising in IT security. I've been a freelance word punk for over 20 years and along the way I have seen 23 of my books published, produced and presented programmes for TV and radio, picked up a bunch of awards and continue being a contributing editor with PC Pro - the best selling IT magazine in the UK .

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