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File photo: Claudio Bresciani / SCANPIX

Hard for police to investigate online abuse

As Swedish police investigate the Instagram account that sparked the Gothenburg riots, Swedish Television reports that reports of verbal abuse, like slander, have doubled in Sweden over the past decade, but that the conviction rate is under one percent.

When the internet is involved cases are even harder to investigate since the crime is often committed on websites hosted abroad.

Swedish police have been in touch with Instagram.

“It is very important to investigate all aspects of the case and I expect we will get the information we need,” Jens Ahlstrand, head of the  IT-forensics group of the Västra Götaland region police force, told Swedish Television.

He added that foreign companies, particularly US-based ones, are often reluctant to handing out information about their clients and users because of privacy protection issues.

Another possibility for police investigating IT crimes is to turn to internet operators for information about users’ IP addresses. However, police can only demand to see IP numbers in cases where the investigated crime is punishable by prison.

The EU data storage directive, which requires internet providers to store user data for a minimum of six months, has also been of some help to police investigations.

Swedish Minister of Justice, Beatrice Ask, has initiated a meeting with Facebook’s European board to discuss how to solve IT-related crimes faster. The meeting is set to take place in January 2013.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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