Cables: Swedish Govt Planning to Kill Messenger Immunity

Cables have been quoted saying that the US Embassy warned for an imminent success of the Pirate Party, but some of the most interesting bits in those cables have not yet been revealed. One thing that was just recently discovered is that the US Embassy knows that the Swedish Government is planning to kill the messenger immunity, or phrased differently, to introduce a third-party ISP liability in copyright infringement cases.

Quoting the cable (my highlight):

Now that the Enforcement Directive implementation will finally enter into force on April 1, and there will soon be a first District court decision in the Pirate Bay case — the Justice Ministry will turn its attention to other key issues, primarily the ISP liability issue and extra resources to investigative capabilities.

Killing the messenger immunity would essentially kill the Internet (and the postal service and the telecom network) as we know them.

This was from the cable recommending that Sweden should not be placed on the Special 301 Watch List in 2009. This list is a pointing-fingers list at everybody who is not being enough of a United States lapdog in regards to copyright and patent law. A majority of the world’s population is on the list. This is per the aggressive foreign policy of the United States of Information Feudalism (see the excellent book by the same name).

I was actually quite proud to be on the watchlist in the draft from the IIPA (see blog post here in Swedish mentioning that at the time — the draft is here), but I was somewhat surprised to not see Sweden on the final list. This cable explains why. It disturbs me deeply that our government is pulling their pants down and bending over for a foreign interest to this extent.
Here is the cable in full:

3/2/2009 13:57
Embassy Stockholm
 B) 08
STATE 45106 1. (SBU) Summary. Embassy Stockholm recommends that Sweden
continues to be placed in the Special 301 Initiative, and not be on the Watch
List for 2009. We are aware of the differing recommendations of the
International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) and PhRMA. Post
recommendation is based on: -- The progress made by the Government of Sweden
(GOS) in five out of the six items identified in the Special 301 Initiative
Action plan we communicated to the GOS last year
 and -- The sensitive domestic
politics that the GOS needs to manage in order to step up internet piracy
enforcement in Sweden. The GOS struggles, with good intentions, against a very
negative media climate and against a vocal youth movement. For example, we want
to highlight the risk that negative media attention on the file sharing issue
gives the Pirate Party a boost in the EU Parliamentary elections in June 2009.
2. (SBU) This cable reviews the progress Sweden has made on the Special 301
Initiative Action plan which we presented to the GOS at the conclusion of the
Special 301 review 2008 (Ref B). Post continues to engage very constructively
with the GOS, and has good access and a good working relationship with key
senior and working level GOS officials. The actions taken since last year's
review strengthen the legislative framework and provide better enforcement
tools for combating piracy. The Pirate Bay trial is currently being heard in
the district court in Stockholm. The last day of the trial is March 4, and the
verdict can be expected on or about March 25. 3. (SBU) Embassy Stockholm
believes it would be counter-productive to watch list Sweden at this point.
Likely negative political and media reaction to a watch listing must be taken
into account. The Justice Ministry, with primary responsibility for this issue,
is fully on board and well aware of what is at stake. It is currently battling
with the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy, and Communication about the next
appropriate steps to curb internet piracy. Now that the Enforcement Directive
implementation will finally enter into force on April 1, and there will soon be
a first District court decision in the Pirate Bay case -- the Justice Ministry
will turn its attention to other key issues, primarily the ISP liability issue
and extra resources to investigative capabilities. The GOS (led by the Justice
Ministry) has to conduct a delicate balancing act, advancing this issue shortly
before Sweden assumes the Presidency of the EU, in the early days of the Obama
administration, and in the budding election campaign for the EU Parliamentary
elections. End summary. Background ---------- 4. (U) The International
Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has, in its yearly Special 301 submission
to USTR, identified widespread internet piracy and difficulties in achieving
effective enforcement against criminal copyright infringement as problems in
Sweden, and has requested that Sweden be placed on the Special 301 Watch List
for 2009. Sweden was not placed on the Watch list in 2008, despite industry's
demands, but was rather placed in the relatively recent, middle step, named
Special 301 Initiative. As part of the Initiative, post conveyed a Special 301
Action plan to the GOS, covering six items where the USG hoped to see progress
during 2008. Review of progress on action plan
--------------------------------- 5. (U) The Special 301 Initiative Action plan
2008 contained recommendations in six specific areas. The GOS has acted, in
various degrees, in five of those areas. A review of progress in the six areas
follows in paras 6-11: 6. (SBU) Industry consultations/ISP liability: The GOS
held a series of industry consultations in the summer/fall of 2008, with the
explicit aim to discuss a voluntary industry agreement involving ISPs and
right-holders organizations. Industry contacts reported that the ISP's were not
willing (they claim they are not able) to take on any action on a voluntary
basis. The first round of consultations was concluded without results during
the fall of 2008. The Justice Ministry is currently working internally in the
GOS to get acceptance for a second round with a clear incentive for progress,
i.e. threatening with legislation in the absence of a voluntary agreement.
There is some resistance in the Center party led Ministry of Enterprise,
Energy, and Communications, and negotiations are on-going at senior GOS-levels.
7. (U) Injunctive relief: The one item without any progress is STOCKHOLM
00000141 002 OF 003 Action plan item 2, Injunctive relief. The GOS maintains
that there are adequate provisions currently on the books in Sweden, and does
not intend to introduce new legislation. (Note that industry claims to the
contrary were supported by the recommendations of the Renfors Commission, a
government study commissioned to look into the file sharing issue. The GOS has
declared that it will not further implement Renfors' recommendations. End
note.) 8. (U) Implementation of the Enforcement Directive: The bill was
approved by Parliament on February 25, and the new provisions will enter into
force on April 1, 2009. The political sensitivities made the final handling of
the Bill very delicate for the Alliance government. Much of the debate and
negotiations have been done in public, and there has been tremendous pressure
put on individual MPs. The passage of the implementing legislation is therefore
a much greater victory for the GOS than it might appear. Major changes,
compared to the original proposal, are: -- the law will not be retroactive,
i.e. only for copyright infringements committed after the law has entered into
force can a court order that the identity behind an IP-number be handed out. --
The court will make a proportionality assessment, i. e. weigh the need of the
rights-holder to get access to the personal identity against integrity aspects
of the person behind the IP number. The law now stipulates that a certain scale
of infringement will be needed for the court to decide that the information
should be handed out. Normally, that would be the case when the infringement
consists of up-loading a single film or musical piece -- since that typically
incurs significant damage to the rights-holder. The same judgment will be made
for a significant scale of down-loading copyright protected material. The law
establishes that if the infringement is the down-loading of only a few
pieces, then normally the court's assessment should be that the integrity
interest must take precedence and the information must not be handed out. --
The law includes provisions that the GOS intends to observe and assess how the
law is used, to ensure that the law is indeed used to go after significant
cases of copyright infringements. This monitoring will commence immediately
once the law has entered into force. 9. (U) Granting police and prosecutors the
right to identities behind IP numbers of individuals potentially implicated in
copyright crimes of lower dignity, i.e. fines rather than prison sentences: The
Justice Ministry has also worked towards the goal of changing legislation so
that police and prosecutors can get access to information about identities
behind IP numbers in cases where the crime could lead to a fine (rather than a
prison sentence). The usual Swedish term for this type of crime (punishable by
fine, not prison) is crime of lower dignity. At present, law enforcement
officials are only allowed to get such information if the infringement could
lead to a prison sentence. The GOS has agreed to change the legislation, and it
was made part of a study commissioned to propose the steps needed to implement
such a change. The proposed changes were recently separated out from the rest
of the study, and were reported in advance to Justice Minister Ask late January
2009. Although the slow legislative process is disappointing, the GOS has
already agreed on the necessary changes that will strengthen the investigative
tools of enforcement officials. 10. (SBU) Police and prosecutors: There are now
two full-time prosecutors dedicated to IPR/copyright issues. Police officers
have been trained, but we understand that they are not allowed to devote
attention to IPR/copyright issues. They are back in their regular line of duty
in their districts, where there are conflicting priorities. We have understood
that the prosecutors have alerted that this is a problem for their work - they
are stuck with a backlog of old errands and without the support of
investigative officers. The prosecutors ask for investigative officers that are
exclusively devoted to IPR issues, today there are no such investigative
capacities. The Justice Ministry has repeatedly asked the Head of the Swedish
Police for information about how he plans to come to terms with the
investigation deficiencies. Although the GOS recognizes the needs, the budget
bill for next year will likely not contain significant increases for law
enforcement, given the harsh economic conditions. This is an area where post
can work with the GOS and industry to highlight the significant impact
additional resources in this area might have. 11. (SBU) Public education: In
the fall of 2008, the GOS released a new information material, primarily aimed
for youth, which will be broadly distributed in Swedish schools. Justice
Minister Ask's staffers are currently considering the pros and cons of engaging
Cabinet members in the public debate. Given all the negative STOCKHOLM 00000141
003 OF 003 attention around the Enforcement directive and the Pirate Bay trial,
the determination thus far has been to keep a low profile. The GOS recognizes
that there is a real risk that the window of opportunity was lost already
several years ago -- when leadingQticians didn't take the debate. How to engage
at this point is a delicate matter. Pirate Bay ---------- 12. (U) After the
raid on Pirate Bay on May 31, 2006, the issue of internet piracy was fiercely
debated in Sweden. Press coverage was largely, and still is, unfavorable to the
positions taken by rights-holders and the USG. The Pirate Bay raid was
portrayed as the GOS caving to USG pressure. The delicate situation made it
difficult, if not counter-productive, for the Embassy to play a public role on
IPR issues. Behind the scenes, the Embassy has worked well with all
stakeholders. After 18 months of investigation, the prosecutor filed
indictments against four individuals for contribution to copyright infringement
because of their activities administrating the Pirate Bay bit torrent webpage.
The case is currently being heard in the district court in Stockholm, and the
trial is scheduled to be completed on March 4. The sentence is expected on or
about March 25, i.e. before the conclusion of the Special 301 review process.
However, we fully expect that any outcome will be appealed to a higher court,
which means that the final verdict will not be known for several years. PhRMA's
drug pricing issue -------------------------- 13. (U) PhRMA has also requested
that Sweden be put on thQ Special 301 Watch List. The request is based on the
GOS decision to de-regulate the pharmacy market in Sweden and the alleged plans
to reduce prices of patented pharmaceuticals on the Swedish market with the aim
to finance the redesign. The price cut is believed to be as high as 10 percent.
14. (U) According to the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, the GOS
does not plan to impose a general price cut on patented pharmaceuticals, but
rather has the intention of maintaining a model for a value based pricing
system. TLV, the Dental and Pharmaceutical Benefits Agency, a central
government agency, has been assigned to suggest principles for pharmacy mark-up
and to suggest how the profitability in the pharmacy market will be assessed
and followed up. TLV will present its proposals to the GOS on April 1 this
year. 15. (U) As of March 2 there is no decision, nor anything in writing, that
confirms that the GOS is actually proposing a 10 percent general price cut on
patented pharmaceuticals. Therefore the Embassy does not recommend that Sweden
be put on the 2009 Special 301 Watch List as concerns the de-regulation of the
Swedish pharmacies. However, should the GOS as a result of the April 1 TLV
report reach a decision to impose a general 10 percent price cut on patented
pharmaceuticals, the Embassy will engage in high-level advocacy with the GOS on
the issue again.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. Iliyena

    Efter att ha läst detta kände jag av ett litet sug att kolla upp när nästa del av spelet Mirror’s Edge kommer. Kom in på det första spelets wiki och blev tvungen att göra en ändring, “sensitive information” hade översatts till “olaglig information”.

    Tänk den dagen när folk tar känsligt som olagligt. Den kommer… Det gör den alltid. Det är vägen dit och vägen därifrån man ska kämpa för.

    1. Iliyena

      Ooops… Todays blogg were in english (funny I didn’t notice): After reading this, I felt an urge to look up a date for when the next part of the game Mirror’s Edge comes out. After a quick search i found myself at the first parts swedish wikipedia and was forced to make a change, “sensitive information” had been translated into “olaglig information”, if you translate that text back you wouldn’t ever translate it as “sensitive” but instead using “illegal” as the only logical translation.

      The day when people will view sensitive as illegal will come… it always does. It is the journey forth and back from that day we are fighting for.

  2. Mats Henricson

    Beatrice Ask (Swedish minister of Justice) more and more appears to be the hawk here, which doubly scary since she is so obviously clueless, both when it comes to internet stuff and to law in general. Probably an easy target for US interests since she appears to be just a totally useful idiot.

    1. Magnus

      No, she appears to be a puppet on a string.

      I guess she has bowed under pressure and threats, probably not knowing how to handle such things due to pure fear, fear for her position, career and such. They bow, instead of just go public with anything that even reminds of pressure, crating a situation where those applying the pressure have to deny it and thus making it something that the bullying part cannot allow to happen since that would reveal the deny as a lie.

  3. Albert

    Wow, that *is* an interesting cable. Btw the Special 301 list is mentioned in the following released cables: 03BRASILIA698, 04BRASILIA445, 04BRASILIA445, 05MADRID1141, 06SAOPAULO965, 08MADRID724, 09MADRID982 and 10RIYADH178.

    But this one looks like it’s named 09STOCKHOLM141 and no such document has been released yet… That makes it extra interesting. Falkvinge must have some good connections..

  4. U

    This makes me want to hurt someone.

  5. Albert

    This seems to be the very same cable that was mentioned in svt Rapport on december 7:

    The cable screenshot from the program was later spread on the internet.

  6. SATOR

    This cable has not been published by the wikileaks, from what i have seen.


    1. Scary Devil Monastery

      I’m guessing the “Openleaks” initiative is proceeding. Remember that some of the staff of “Wikileaks”, on noticing that Assange had disproportionate power and influence in the movement, decided to abscond with the intent to publish whatever wikileaks did not publish as a matter of editorial discretion, since editorial discretion could be politically weighted.

      People and organizations known to have provided wikileaks mirrors are most likely first to receive.

      That, or the wikileaks mirrored sites aren’t the first to have received the updates. More cables are released every day, after all, surviving the vetting process.

    2. Rick Falkvinge

      You’re right that WikiLeaks have not published this cable yet, at least not at the time of writing.

      I have sources and leaks of my own, and am required by law to protect them.

  7. Scary Devil Monastery

    What this really tells us is that “Yes, the state IS the enemy, courtesy of a foreign power”.

    Why should we act differently about this than we should than, say, if we knew that Putin was influencing our government from russia?

  8. Jan

    Swe: Lite OT, men det skulle vara intressant att höra vad ni har att säga kring kulturministerns förslag att staten skall kolla igenom och godkänna nya public-service-tjänster samt UKs “porrfilter”förslag.

  9. Jakob

    Rick, could it be an idea to setup as an objective of the Swedish Pirate Party that Sweden should be setup on the US Special 301 Watch List?

    The US seems to regard this watch list as something countries don’t want to be put up on.

    You could strengthen your position amongst the people that are uprising against the dictatorships that call themselves democracies by showing that their deterrents are the future leaders’ attractions.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Rick, could it be an idea to setup as an objective of the Swedish Pirate Party that Sweden should be setup on the US Special 301 Watch List?

      I think that would be an excellent idea. Or at least, set it as an indicator of successful information policy.

      1. SBJ

        En alldeles utmärkt idé, men det krävs ju också att en sådan lista får genomslag i media.

      2. Martin Widmark

        Nobody even knows about that list. Ordinary people don’t care. They don’t understand the significance, and probably don’t even want to. It will be very hard to gain anything from such a move, and much to lose. We will be branded criminals again, and as nobody cares about the list we will just be seen as common criminals.

  10. […] Reinfeldt och den svenska regeringen går helt i USA:s ledband. Det framgår om inte annat av det #cablegate-telegram som dök upp häromdagen. För ministrarna i regeringen är det viktigare att storebror USA tycker […]

  11. Mind

    Off topic: För en tid sedan diskuterades att Mona Sahlin bett om hjälp av USA för att vinna valet, och i gengäld skulle delta mer i Afghanistankonflikten. Det diskuterades även då att det mer specifikt var CIA hon skulle ha samarbetat med, finns det något stöd för det eller var det bara rykten från Jallai på newsmill?

    1. Albert

      Det finns stöd för Jallais påstående om Sahlin och Ahlin i ett av kabelpostmeddelandena (se t.ex: Frågan är hur mycket man kan lita på att diplomatposten är äkta. Men bara det faktum att ingen höjdare gått ut och dementerat pekar på att de faktiskt är äkta. Svt, SvD med flera har journalister som noggrant går igenom allt som rör Sverige och inga indikationer har kommit om att det skulle röra sig om förfalskad diplomatpost.

  12. Josef Boberg
  13. Mikael "MMN-o" Nordfeldth

    Det finns redan planer/beslut (det har berättats till arbetare på Postens terminaler) att börja röntga alla brev/paket skickade med Rekommenderad post.

    Inte för att jag tror att en terrorist skickar rekommenderat… Men då är jag inte helt säker på att det är terroranledningar som fått dem att vilja införa detta heller. Vilket syfte det DÅ fyller är jag dock helt förblurrad över.

  14. WikiSoap « Arkeoblog

    […] regeringen ska inte ha något inflytande över rättsväsendet, särskilt inte över enskilda fall. Diplomatposten visar att USA:s ambassad utövade påtryckningar mot svenska regeringen. Regeringen gav efter för […]

  15. Det blev ingen dator… än. | MMN-o

    […] Så det är bara att börja avlyssna hela tidningsredaktionen också – med lagstöd! Fuck the messenger immunity, som majoriteten av våra riksdagsledamöter […]

  16. […] som skriver om 09STOCKHOLM141: Rick Falkvinge, Rick Falkvinge, Rickard […]

  17. Det fria ordet « Margareth Osju ;s blog

    […] via Rick Falkvinge;s blogg: Cables: US driving Swedish Data Retention Cables: Swedish Govt Planning to Kill Messenger Immunity […]

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