Swedish ISP says it will not store customer IP addresses

The decision is in response to a new European intellectual-property law

Swedish ISP Tele2 has decided not to store customer IP addresses in response to customer demand after Sweden implemented a law to make it easier for copyright holders to go after file sharers.

The law is based on the European Union's Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) and went into effect April 1. It will make it possible for copyright holders to get a court order requesting ISPs to provide IP (Internet Protocol) addresses linked to computers and users that have downloaded their content. The copyright holders can then use the information in a civil lawsuit.

Since it might have to turn over information about users, Tele2 has decided to change data storage routines and no longer save information about IP addresses, the company said in a statement.

"It's good that you've got an operator that is willing to defend the rights of the users and is willing to respect that we do have rights," said Monica Horten, Internet policy expert and founder of the iptegrity.com web site.

With the reform of the E.U.'s telecommunications laws, European operators stand to get even more power, including being able to legally block Internet access.

As a result, operators now have a duty to act responsibly towards citizens. It's more of an ethical duty rather than following the letter of the law, according to Horten. That is were the Swedish ISPs are setting an example that others should follow, she said.

Tele2 is the largest ISP that has come out publicly against storing IP addresses to facilitate copyright holders, but not the only one -- Bahnhof has also said it won't store IP addresses.

Tele2 has studied the legislation and concluded that is has no obligations to store IP addresses, it said.

A recent survey found that 48 percent of Swedes are against the IPRED law, compared to 32 percent in favor of it. There was also a correlation between age, gender and opposition: 74 percent of men aged 15 to 29 are against the law, while the least negative are people over 65, with 27 percent of them against it.

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