Swedish Internet Traffic Still Down Almost 50%

Proves controversial anti-piracy law is having a lasting effect.

It’s been a little over two months now since Sweden passed legislation allowing copyright holders to petition courts to force ISPs to turn over the personal information of suspected file-sharers via an IP address.

Immediately after the law took effect on April 1st Internet traffic plunged from almost 200Gbps to 110Gbps.

One Swedish ISP voiced his displeasure with the drop and I’m sure he’s not alone.

“Half the Internet is gone,” said Jon Karlung, chief executive of Banhof. “If this pattern keeps up, it means the extensive broadband network we’ve built will lose its significance.”

Two months later Internet traffic is still down by almost half to around 70Gbs, a daily average not seen since July of last year, a full two months before the copyright enforcement law was even proposed.

“The sharp decrease of Internet traffic that occurred after April 1 following the IPRED continues,” says Henrik Pontén, lawyer for Sweden’s Anti-Piracy Agency (AntipiratbyrÃ¥n — APB), in a statement. “The large traffic reduction suggesting that it is ordinary users who have reduced illegal file sharing.”

Pontén also says there is now a “robust recovery” of legal download services, but is that really the case? With traffic still down by almost half one has to wonder if the copyright law was fully to blame.

As usual the devil is in the details, and it seems that the reason may be that file-sharers simply began using BitTorrent tracker sites hosted outside Sweden. For Netnod Internet Exchange, the Internet traffic measurement firm collecting the data, only measures traffic within Sweden.

More importantly, if the intent of the new copyright law was to get people to download more content legally then Internet traffic wouldn’t be down as much as it is.

“I’d say that the law has been partially successful in that it appears to have stopped people from sharing files illegally,” said Stockholm University IT-law expert Daniel Westman. “But the point of the law was to get more people to use legal file sharing sites and if it had been truly successful, we wouldn’t see this drop in internet traffic, but simply a shifting of traffic from illegal file sharing sites to legal ones.”

Exactly.

Copyright holders are also finding that getting ISPs to turn over the personal information of IP addresses it suspects of copyright infringement not as easy as it had hoped either, with many vowing to stop storing them altogether.

The elusive game of whack-a-mole continues.

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