Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Swedish police are censoring political websites

Today I was about to write a post about repression of political rights on the Internet in different parts of the world (see this BBC special report), but it turned out that the very same morning Swedish police raided the servers of The Pirate Bay, the world's largest BitTorrent tracker. In the absence of more information, one would assume what is hosted by The Pirate Bay are only links that point to copyrighted material stored somewhere else (on the computers of the millions of individual users using the site), and thus not any copyrighted material per se. However, it is as of yet unconfirmed exactly what other material is hosted on these servers - one thing is for sure, though, and that is that these servers also hosted the Piratbyrån website, forum and news agency: a fully legal, acknowledged and popular political website.
This is outrageous.
Piratbyrån ("The Pirate Association" or "Bureau of Piracy"; see further description here*) is a political activist organisation that propagates for changes in copyright law. Now the Swedish police has rejected them the right to express their views through seizing their web servers. The initiative to the raid most likely came from the Antipiratbyrån organisation; the main lobby organisation of the multinational entertainment industry in Sweden, an organisation which represents an opposite stance in the issue.
In other words, a political attack against a perfectly legitimate political web site, initiated by a non-democratic, corporate interest organisation, effected by the police. Does this sound like something that would happen in Cuba or in China?
No, it happened in Sweden, 109 days before the general election (in which a Pirate Party, affiliated to the closed-down website is participating).

links in english:

links in swedish:
*) Note: I have to link to Google's cached version, due to the Piratbyrån servers being down...