A week ago today, Swedish authorities raided one of the most infamous webhosts in Europe.
PRQ, a company with a reputation for allowing almost anyone to anonymously use its facilities, was severely disrupted as police hunted for the file-sharing related servers behind a handful of IP addresses.
Dozens of sites went down, but it took until last Wednesday for the actual targets of the operation to be revealed. The primary target was Tankafetast, once Sweden’s #2 torrent site.
The second was Appbucket, a site that was the subject of legal action in August when the FBI seized its domain in a crackdown against Android app piracy. SVT now has confirmation that the raid on that domain was carried out in concert with a “foreign police force”.
By the middle of the week most PRQ-linked sites had returned and were back in business, meaning that Internet user interest in the raids had already started to wane. However, it appears that the Swedish government’s interest in shutting down torrent sites has not.
Last Thursday, action was taken against another site known as SweDream. Police carried out a raid in Skåne in southern Sweden, seizing several computers. The site is suspected of being involved in the unauthorized distribution of movies.
“We think [the raids are] completely wrong, file sharing is something that is good for society,” says Swedish Pirate Party leader Anna Troberg.
“That it is illegal is one thing, but if a law is bad you should change the law,” she says.
But while a change in the law may help longer term, it isn’t going to help the situation developing in Sweden today. The first signs that something might be coming appeared in February when the Sweden’s Supreme Court said it would not be hearing an appeal of the Pirate Bay trial.
“The rule of law has spoken and this is a defining moment in the lengthy discussion of copyright on the Internet,” said Henrik Pontén, lawyer at Antipiratbyrån at the time.
“The Supreme Court has made clear to all involved in copyright violations, including those that provide them with Internet connections, must now assume their responsibilities.”
What followed was a public warning from Antipiratbyrån and local Hollywood lawyer Monique Wadsted to around 150 file-sharing sites with Swedish connections – shut down or else.
Later in February police in Gothenburg carried out a raid against an individual they said was involved with both The Pirate Bay and another local site, Shareitall.
Police also flexed their muscles with a raid on SwePiracy, although in the last couple of days the site appears to have coincidentally reappeared.
Since February Sweden has been fairly quiet though, until last week of course when things really heated up. Speaking with TorrentFreak this morning, Antipiratbyrån’s Henrik Pontén confirmed that in the last seven days at least five “key” Swedish sites have been completely shut down.
They are Tankafetast, SweDream, ShareItAll, SharingZone and SteelBits.
So, do the developments of the past week indicate the start of a new file-sharing crackdown?
“Yes, you can expect more actions against illegal sites,” Pontén concludes.