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Swedish internet traffic plummets in face of new piracy laws

Courts can now order ISPs to unmask anonymous file sharers at the request of copyright owners

By Daniel Goldberg, IDG News Service
April 03, 2009 07:50 AM ET

IDG News Service - Internet traffic in Sweden plummeted by nearly 50 percent as new anti-piracy laws came into effect on April 1. Three days on, traffic levels have yet to pick up again.

The new law makes it possible for rights holders, by way of a court order, to unmask Internet users based on their IP address, effectively ending anonymity for filesharers in Sweden.

At the same time as the law came into effect, traffic through some of Sweden's main internet exchange points plummeted dramatically. Statistics from Netnod, a company which manages six of Sweden's main Internet exchange points, show a drop of nearly 50 percent through some nodes from one day to the next. Peak values of nearly 200Gbps (bits per second) on Tuesday fell to around 110Gbps on Wednesday, the first day the law was in effect.

Three days later and throughput has still not increased significantly. Just before noon on April 3, around 60Gbps passed through the six Netnod exchanges. That is a drop from more than 100Gbps on Tuesday, the day before the new law came into effect.

Netnod only measures traffic through exchange points in Luleå, Sundsvall, Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. Many of the larger networks peer directly with each other and their throughput is not included in the statistics.

Netnod declined to comment specifically on the figures, but said it has no way of determining exactly what caused the drop in traffic.

One Swedish operator, Bahnhof, said the statistics from Netnod correlated with their own measurements. From throughput of around 23Gbps on Tuesday, traffic in Bahnhof's network fell to around 15Gbps on Wednesday.

Sweden has one of the most developed Internet infrastructures in the world and the largest percentage of fiber-optic broadband connections per capita anywhere, according to statistics from European telecommunications trade group ECTA. Traffic had increased sharply during the six months preceding this week's sudden drop.

"Swedish Internet traffic is now about the same as in some countries in southern Europe," Bahnhof Managing Director Jon Karlung told Computer Sweden. "With these levels, we wouldn't need a better infrastructure than what they have in Italy, for example."

Three of the largest Swedish ISPs, Teliasonera, Tele2 and Telenor/Bredbandsbolaget, have all declined to comment on the matter.

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