Ipred backlash

Boom in Anonymous File-Sharing

Following the Pirate Bay trial, and the new Ipred law, file-sharing has gone underground in Sweden. Companies that help conceal Internet IP addresses see a multi-million dollar market opening up.

The TT news agency says that in a month 180,000 people may be using the Pirate Bay file-sharing site anonymously.

The Swedish broadband supplier Alltele recently added a free service to conceal IP addresses to its customers. The company’s CEO expected customer interest, but he says it was more like an explosion. More than 4000 users have downloaded the anonymity program and the company’s Stockholm server is overwhelmed.

Relakks, which offers commercial anonymity services for a monthly fee, says they have more than doubled their customers.

According to TT, the market can be expected to continue to grow, as there are at least 1.5 million Swedes who file-share. That’s one-sixth the total population of the country.

The Pirate Bay’s own anonymity service Ipredator is due to go online in about a month. So far there are around 3000 beta testers and the Pirate Bay claims that 180,000 have signed up for the service when it launches.

The controversial Ipred law, which went into effect on April 1, allows the entertainment industry to obtain the IP addresses of those it suspects of file-sharing. Critics have charged it gives private companies vigilante powers that ought to remain with the police.

The success of the Pirate Party (and to a lesser extent the Green Party) in Sweden’s recent elections to the European Parliament is attributed to dissatisfaction among young Swedes over the established parties’ positions on file-sharing.