Bahnhof Faces “Net Neutrality” Investigation After Arbitrarily Blocking Domains

By Bill Toulas / December 17, 2018

Bahnhof ISP service provider is one of Sweden’s most aggressive companies when it comes to protecting the privacy and data of its customers. The company maintains a rigid stance against those who try to limit the freedom of the internet and has established a comprehensive set of measures to protect the identity of its subscribers no matter what legal action is taken for disclosure.

However, court orders have proven their strength again and again in these recent years, and ISP providers have clearly understood that they stand no chance when going against copyright mobs. Courts seem to be greatly affected by the hefty fines involved, so money is a devastating power against the “open internet” mentality. In November, a court order asked Bahnhof to block several domain names following a complaint by Elsevier, an academic content publisher.

Back then, the CEO of Bahnhof Jon Karlung, stated that this court order was a horrifying decision and since he couldn’t avert from complying with the directive, he decided to retaliate by blocking the domain as well. Subscribers of Bahnhof who tried to access ended up on a landing page that informed them of the blocking reasons. It was basically a fight-back move that mostly satisfied the ethical component of Karlung and the open internet advocates. However, Karlung decided to take it a step further by banning the users of the court’s network to access the Bahnhof website, making his protesting point more apparent to everyone involved.

All this gained the  attention of “The Post and Telecom Agency” (PTS) of Sweden, who has just launched an investigation into Bahnhof’s actions. If Bahnhof has taken measures that influence the users’ access to websites, then this would mean that they do not comply with the “network neutrality” regulations (EU 2015/2120), and this breach could mean a submission of hefty fines, or even worse. According to the PTS, only court orders are legally allowed to enforce traffic management measures, or even blocking of specific domains.

Karlung has stated that Bahnhof has not received any formal questions or requests by the PTS yes and that their “counter-blocking” was made in the open, so there’s nothing to investigate on that part. They are doing it as a form of a protest against having to block websites, something that jeopardizes the core of their operational scope as ISP providers. As Karlung said to TorrentFreak: “We will of course not let this go unnoticed, and I heartfully thank PTS for this fine opportunity.”

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