Norwegian piracy spotters lose monitoring licence

By | Published on Wednesday 29 August 2012


Whether or not copyright owners monitoring file-sharing networks in a bid to track down online pirates contravenes net users’ privacy rights has been discussed at various points in the last decade, though in most jurisdictions such monitoring has been allowed, partly because any online activity monitored can only be attributed to an IP address, and it takes a court order to force an internet service provider to reveal the actual identity of the customer registered at that location.

But in some territories data protection rules have played a more significant role than others (such rules derailed three-strikes in Ireland for a time), and according to Torrentfreak privacy laws in Norway mean that, as of March, rights owners are no longer allowed to monitor any online activity. And while that rule might be hard to enforce in practice, it means no copyright action could be pursued that relied on evidence gathered via online monitoring.

It seems that in Norway online monitoring has always been more strictly regulated, though the country’s Data Inspectorate did issue a licence to one law firm allowing it to monitor file-sharing according to set rules. Which was good news for that law firm, called Simonsen, it more or less giving them a monopoly when it comes to helping rights owners target file-sharers.

Except earlier this year the Data Inspectorate chose not to renew Simonsen’s licence, and Norway’s Privacy Appeals Board rejected the law firm’s appeal of that decision. Cecilie Rønnevik, senior advisor to the Norwegian Data Inspectorate, told Torrentfreak last week: “As of today no hunting of file-sharers is allowed in Norway”.

Needless to say, Simonsen are critical of the current situation, telling Norwegian magazine Teknisk Ukeblad: “When no one is authorised to process personal data in order to stop copyright infringement, it weakens licensees’ ability to pursue violations happening online, and thus their ability to protect their interests. We hope and believe that this problem will soon be solved”.