Wednesday 8 September 2010

Police target file sharers in 14 European countries

The web is buzzing this morning with news that police in 14 European countries launched a coordinated series of raids on suspected file-sharing network operations yesterday (Tuesday 7th). Reports say that Belgian authorities spearheaded the investigation that led to the raids, although a substantial part of the police activity took place in Sweden, including a raid on Sweden's PRQ in Solna, the new web host of whistleblower site WikiLeaks. Raids also took place on sites in Stockholm, Malmo, Eskilstuna and at Umea University's campus in Sweden. TorrentFreak reports that other raids took place in The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Italy. Great Britain, Czech Republic and Hungary. The believed target of the raids is the file-sharing "Warez Scene" or the “Scene”, which appears to be a loosely-affiliated group thought to be behind many leaks of copyrighted material to the Internet and described as “ the network of individuals and servers at the top of the so-called ‘Piracy Pyramid’ “. In Sweden it is reported that four people are being questioned on suspicion of breaching copyright law. Servers and computers have also been seized.

PRQ’s Mikaelo Viberg spoke to reporters and said that armed with IP addresses, police officers turned up at PRQ’s premises “At 9:00 this morning, five policemen were here” adding “They were interested in who were using two IP addresses from 2009 and onwards. We have no records of our clients but we’re handing over the e-mail addresses for those behind the IPs. However, it’s rare that our clients have mail addresses that are traceable.”

The web was also creaking under a welter of rumours of conspiracy - the theory being that because of the PRQ action, the raids were in some way connected to WikiLeaks whose recent exposures have been rather embarrassing for the Government and military in the USA. Sweden’s Pirate Party (unsurprisingly) expressing concern saying it was “highly critical” of the raid but Swedish prosecutor Frederick Ingblad confirmed to local media that WikiLeaks was not a target of the operation.

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