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Quirks in Tech

An informal space where I think about the oddities of technology, politics, and privacy. Also some other stuff.

VPNs becoming more common amongst youth ∞

The risks that onerous copyright laws pose for law enforcement are rarely considered, despite such laws (potentially) threatening national security operations. In Sweden, following efforts to dissuade file sharing, the population is increasingly moving to encrypted VPN connections to continue their sharing. From an article over at Torrentfreak,

according to new research from the Cybernorms research group at Sweden’s Lund University, an increasing proportion of the country’s population are taking measures to negate the effects of spying on their online activities.

The study reveals that 700,000 Swedes now make themselves anonymous online with paid VPN services such as The Pirate Bay’s iPredator.

What does this have to do with law enforcement? As the Swedish population moves to encrypted communications it limits authorities’ insights into the data traffic moving through Swedish networks. Consequently, the copyright lobby is (unintentionally) increasing the challenges of applying digital ‘wiretaps’ on Swedish citizens. While not something that the copyright lobbies are necessarily concerned with, these developments can be problematic for national security agencies.

I’m not advocating that communications should necessarily be easier for such agencies to investigate - far from it - but do I think that before aligning legislative efforts with copyright groups it is critical for legislators to think of the broader implications associated with ‘strong’ copyright laws. While such laws might dissuade some file sharing, are the benefits derived from limiting file sharing sufficient to justify disadvantaging national security and intelligence operation?

May 25, 2012

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