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Swedish court: IP addresses are personal data

1 July, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: Schwedisches Gericht: IP-Adressen sind persönliche Daten

Macedonian: Шведска: ИП адресите се лични податоци

The Swedish Supreme Administrative Court ruled on 18 June that the IP addresses are personal data in a case regarding APB (the Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau, Antipiratbyrån), a lobby group representing copyright owners.

However, from the comments following the judgement, it became clear that this ruling will not stop the implementation of the Swedish IPRED Directive or the way the copyright holder representatives record and keep IP addresses in order to identify alleged file-shares. Although the ruling means that APB's methods for chasing filesharers by logging their IP addresses was in violation of the Personal Data Act, the new IPRED law changed the situation.

A policy adviser at the Swedish Ministry of Justice explained to The Register: "The rumours that this decision will kill off IPRED are wrong, because the bill creating the law includes an exemption for rights holders - they may request and keep IP numbers for this purpose."

Jonas Agnvall, a legal adviser with the Swedish Data Inspection Board, says that the new IPRED law specifically allows the activities of IP logging of the APB: "I have not scrutinised the directive in detail, but as I understand do they no longer need the legal exception whit the implementation of the IPRED-law", Jonas Agnvall says to Computer Sweden.

He also added: "During the autumn we will inquire this and how these lobby groups of copyright holders use the personal records. This we can do now when it stands clear that IP addresses' really are personal records".

A week later, on the 25 June 2009, a first ruling on the new IPRED law was given by the Solna District Court which decided that an ISP must hand information revealing its customers based on the IP addresses given by five publishers of audiobooks who were trying to identify some alleged copyright offenders.

In this case, the Swedish broadband service provider Ephone was asked by the five publishers to reveal who owned a server suspected of containing some several hundred audio book titles. The ISP refused to say who was behind the IP address, questioning if the matter was indeed a copyright infringement since the FTP server was not publicly available and the access to it was possible only to the persons that knew the password to access it.

In the decision of the Solna District Court, the judges ordered Ephone to reveal the information regarding the customers that are using several IP addresses under a penalty of 750 000 Swedish crowns fine (approx. 70 000 euros). The company also needed to pay the publishers' court costs.

Collecting IP Addresses Illegal in Sweden (18.06.2009)

Favorable court ruling do not save file-sharing (18.06.2009)

Sweden: IP numbers are personal...unless you're a pirate (18.06.2009)

Publishers win anti- piracy law test case (25.06.2009)

First IPRED case settled (only in Swedish, 25.06.2009)



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