Compliance or Obscurity? Online Anonymity as a Consequence of Fighting Unauthorised File-sharing

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TY - JOUR

T1 - Compliance or Obscurity? Online Anonymity as a Consequence of Fighting Unauthorised File-sharing

AU - Larsson, Stefan

AU - Svensson, Måns

PY - 2010

Y1 - 2010

N2 - The European Union directive on Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement (IPRED) was implemented in Sweden on April 1, 2009, and was meant to be the enforcement needed to achieve increased compliance with intellectual property online, especially copyright. This, therefore, was the manifest function of the directive. The article empirically shows changes in levels of use of Online Anonymity Services (OAS) as a result of the implementation of IPRED in Sweden, as being a latent dysfunction of the implementation The data consists of two surveys of about 1,000 people between 15 and 25 years of age, where the first survey was conducted two months prior to the implementation of IPRED, and the second one seven months afterwards. This data is complemented with OAS statistics as well as Google search engine statistics in Sweden during 2009 on a selection of phrases related to online anonymity, revealing the link between encrypted anonymity fluctuations and copyright enforcement. The article suggests that a key to understand any relationship between IPRED and fluctuations in online anonymity can be found in the law’s relationship to social norms and levels of perceived legitimacy. The implementation of illegitimate laws is likely to spur dysfunctional (for the law) counter-measures. In the case of copyright enforcement and encryption technologies, the first seems to drive the other to some extent, affecting the balance of openness and anonymity on the Internet, possibly and at worst leading to that the enforcement of legislation that has a weak representation among social norms negatively affects the enforcement of legislation that has a strong representation among social norms.

AB - The European Union directive on Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement (IPRED) was implemented in Sweden on April 1, 2009, and was meant to be the enforcement needed to achieve increased compliance with intellectual property online, especially copyright. This, therefore, was the manifest function of the directive. The article empirically shows changes in levels of use of Online Anonymity Services (OAS) as a result of the implementation of IPRED in Sweden, as being a latent dysfunction of the implementation The data consists of two surveys of about 1,000 people between 15 and 25 years of age, where the first survey was conducted two months prior to the implementation of IPRED, and the second one seven months afterwards. This data is complemented with OAS statistics as well as Google search engine statistics in Sweden during 2009 on a selection of phrases related to online anonymity, revealing the link between encrypted anonymity fluctuations and copyright enforcement. The article suggests that a key to understand any relationship between IPRED and fluctuations in online anonymity can be found in the law’s relationship to social norms and levels of perceived legitimacy. The implementation of illegitimate laws is likely to spur dysfunctional (for the law) counter-measures. In the case of copyright enforcement and encryption technologies, the first seems to drive the other to some extent, affecting the balance of openness and anonymity on the Internet, possibly and at worst leading to that the enforcement of legislation that has a weak representation among social norms negatively affects the enforcement of legislation that has a strong representation among social norms.

KW - unauthorized file sharing

KW - functions and dysfunctions

KW - manifest and latent

KW - social norms

KW - vpn

KW - encryption

KW - pseudonymity

KW - Anonymity

KW - IPRED

KW - copyright enforcement

KW - sociology of law.

U2 - 10.2202/1944-2866.1044

DO - 10.2202/1944-2866.1044

M3 - Article

VL - 2

SP - 77

EP - 105

JO - Policy & Internet

JF - Policy & Internet

SN - 1944-2866

IS - 4

ER -