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Auckland, New Zealand
Smurf sized geeky person with a penchant for IT, gaming, music and books. Half of industrial duo 'the craze jones'. Loves data, learning new things, teaching new things and being enthusiastic.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

40% drop in web use in Sweden

It was interesting to read how web use in Sweden dropped overnight by 40% since the introduction of a strict new copyright law... see here:,

I'm wondering if perhaps a point has been missed in the NZ Herald article. I'm guessing they've copied the information from one site that seemed credible without putting in any actual thought or real journalism; the first result returned by Google gave me pretty much the same information that was contained in the NZ Herald article. This prompted me to do a bit of reading up of my own, especially as 40% seems rather higher than would be expected by just losing the file swappers. Surely 40% of Internet users in Sweden aren't using the Internet purely for file swapping and illegal downloads? Who knows? One day really isn't a long enough sample period and things may bounce back next week when people get over the shock of the new law.

Swedish Pirate Party vice-chairman Christian Engstrom played down the data and predicts the drop is only temporary. In his BBC interview he says, “Today, there is a very drastic reduction in internet traffic, but experience from other countries suggests that while file-sharing drops on the day a law is passed, it starts climbing again. One of the reasons is that it takes people a few weeks to figure out how to change their security settings so that they can share files anonymously.”

Sweden has a reputation as being one of the top users Worldwide for mobile and Internet technologies. In 2000 approximately 45.5% of the population were online this had grown by August 2007 to 76.7% of the population being online. By 2008 this number had increased yet again to 80.7% of the population. That's a massive number, it's 7.2 million people.

The cited percentage drop in Internet usage seems to vary depending upon which site you look at, ZeroPaid claim a 50% drop in usage, whereas another site, TorrentFreak, interestingly using the same graphics to explain their point, claim a 30% drop in usage. Whichever statistic you take, it's still a high number, hopefully for the Swedish ISPs it is just a short-term glitch.

Perhaps it really is the case that just under 3 million Swedes are illegally downloading movies and file sharing, but it seems like an improbably high number. In a 24 hour period only 384,657 Swedes were connected to the Pirate Bay tracker (info from, so what are the other 2.7 million using? Isn't PirateBay one of the top rated file sharing tools in the World? The 24 hour measurement of PirateBay traffic shows no drop in usage at all which rather means this law missed its target.

Usage of PirateBay doesn't appear to have slowed down, illegal downloaders just anonymize their IP addresses and carry on regardless. According to an anonymous comment on the TorrentBay page, "the number of Swedes using The Pirate Bay is the same as before IPRED (Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive) came into effect. This implies that IPRED hasn’t stopped people from filesharing at all, and the 30% drop is because the common folk - the ones that don’t even fileshare - are logging out over fear, disgust, or both. "

People with nothing to fear appear to have been scared into not using the Internet in Sweden. We would have seen the same thing in New Zealand but thankfully common sense prevailed and we narrowly avoided section 92a. The law now in place in Sweden obliges ISPs to hand over data about illegal content sharers if they break copyright law, however, one slight difference between the suggested NZ law and that now in place in Sweden is that a court has to find that there is "sufficient evidence of illegal activity" (, this is at least some protection against power hungry corporations.

There seems to be an insanity sweeping the globe with people being told what to do and laws being dictated by large corporations instead of democratic processes being followed. I await with interest to see the fate of PirateBay founders. If they are found guilty then even more people will need to be scared with anyone who develops a piece of software able to be held accountable for the actions of their end users. As a developer, this scares me and should scare a great deal more people.


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