Censorship Doesn’t Solve Problems

Collateral damage in Moscow and the Pirate Bay

In 2006, the Swedish police raided the data center that housed the Pirate Bay, an infamous BitTorrent tracker that had made a sport of taunting the entertainment industry. The circumstances surrounding the raid were contentious: it seemed the action had been improperly ordered by a government minister who was supposed to have an arm’s-length relationship with the police, at the behest of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

But what was more controversial in wider Swedish society was the collateral damage of the seizure: hundreds of websites went down at the same time as the Pirate Bay, as the police enthusiastically seized a data center’s worth of servers. These other servers—which hosted sites for businesses, nonprofits, and individuals—had nothing infringing on them, but the police couldn’t be certain of this at the time, so they took the lot. It’s like they decided that, since one store in the middle of town was carrying unlicensed products, they were going to shut down the entire shopping district while they figured things out.

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