In 2009, Sweden introduced the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED). The legislation gave rights holders the authority to request the personal details of alleged copyright infringers.
This prompted Jon Karlung, CEO of ISP Bahnhof, to announce that he would take measures to protect the privacy of his customers. Shortly after Bahnhof ceased logging customer activities and with no logging there was no data to store or hand over.
Now, in the face of Sweden’s looming implementation of the European Data Retention Directive which will force them to store data, Bahnhof – who are also Wikileaks’ Swedish host – will go a step further to protect the anonymity and privacy of their customers. Soon, every Bahnhof customer will be given a free anonymizing service by default.
“In our case, we plan to let our traffic go through a VPN service, ” Bahnhof’s Jon Karlung told SR.
Since the service will encrypt user traffic, not even Bahnhof will know what their customers are doing online. If the ISP doesn’t know about their activities, then there’s not much to log. Nothing to log means there’s nothing useful to hand over to authorities and anti-piracy companies.
“Technically, this is a stealth section, we will store all data up to this point of invisibility,” adds Karlung, referring to the first-hop connection the customer makes with the company’s servers when going online.
“What happens after that is not our responsibility and is outside Bahnhof. So the only thing we are going to store is very little information, which in practice will be irrelevant.”
Of course, there will be commercial implications for other Internet service providers in Sweden if they fail to address privacy concerns as Bahnhof have done. To this end, other ISPs are believed to have plans in the pipeline to follow suit, but these are yet to be formally announced.
Bahnhof customers who don’t want to remain anonymous and would like everything they do online to be stored for a minimum of 6 months, can opt-in to be spied on – for around $8.00 per month extra.