Uploaded.net Has No Real Ties to Switzerland, Criminal Investigation Shows

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Popular file-hosting service Uploaded.net proudly represents itself as a Swiss company. With the US Government branding it a pirate site, that presented a problem for the European country. However, following a criminal investigation, the Swiss authorities concluded that the site has "no real ties" to Switzerland.

With millions of visitors per month, Uploaded is one of the largest file-hosting services on the Internet.

Like many of its ‘cloud-hosting’ competitors, the service is also used to share copyright-infringing material, which is a thorn in the side of various copyright holder groups.

This led to all sorts of trouble for Uploaded’s parent company Cyando AG. It was sued in Germany, called out by the US Government, and subjected to a criminal investigation in Switzerland, where it’s believed to operate from.

The company’s whereabouts are not really a secret. Uploaded clearly displays the Swiss ‘base’ on its website. Switzerland is widely known for its strict data protection regulations, something Uploaded’s parent company also highlighted in a sponsored post on Gizmodo.

“The big cheese – sorry – in Swiss cloud computing is Cyando AG. Cyando AG is the name behind Uploaded.net, the file hosting service with millions of worldwide users. It’s growing quickly, and so is its reputation: individual and corporate users alike know that they can trust Uploaded.net with their most precious data.”

The apparent Swiss link prompted the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) to include it in its latest report to the US Trade Representative. By offering a home to these types of sites, Switzerland poses a threat to the interests of American copyright holders, it argued.

However, Switzerland doesn’t agree. A few days ago, the country submitted a rebuttal to the USTR. The Swiss point out that proposed updates to copyright law will alleviate many current concerns, and they also suggest that Uploaded.net is not their problem.

Local law enforcement authorities completed a criminal investigation into the site, but concluded that there are “no real ties” to Switzerland, unlike the IIPA suggests.

“IIPA seems to be unaware that a criminal proceeding has been conducted against Cyando AG/Uploaded.net. The investigation showed that there are no real ties to Switzerland and that the operation is very likely conducted from a neighboring EU member state,” Switzerland’s rebuttal reads.

“While the investigation proved unsuccessful for lack of ties to Switzerland, it nevertheless proves the ability and willingness of the Swiss authorities to act against Internet piracy,” it adds.

IIPA also mentioned Oboom, another file-hosting service which has a “Swiss made” logo on its homepage. However, according to the response from Switzerland’s Government, this site is no longer a problem either.

“Concerning Oboom, consulting the Commercial Register shows that the company is being liquidated and is therefore no longer a threat to copyright owners,” the Swiss write.

While the company may be liquidated soon, it’s unclear whether the site will also disappear. At the time of writing it is still fully functional, with no hint that anything is about to change soon.

The Swiss Government believes that their enforcement efforts and the proposed changes to the copyright law should put an end to criticism directed against Switzerland as a host country for infringing sites.

As such, they hope that the US Government won’t list the country in its upcoming Special 301 Report, which provides an overview of countries with lacking copyright regulations.

“Despite the erroneous picture the industry submissions convey, enforcement of copyright protection in the online context is possible in Switzerland,” the Swiss write in their letter.

“Given the steady progress made in the ongoing legislative process, Switzerland considers a further inclusion on the Watch List to be unjustified and inappropriate,” they add.

A copy of Switzerland’s submission to the United States Trade Representative is available here (pdf).


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