A new Finnish anonymity service UserVPN started its operation in the early hours of December 8th. The stated mission of the service is to protect Finns from the Swedish FRA espionage: "Keep the privacy you deserve. UserVPN offers encrypted connections over borders of Sweden to all over the world. This service protects headers and content of the user's traffic from internet mass surveillance. Traffic is routed to public internet as near destination as possible. This service is made possible by USR Networks comprehensive VPN environment in Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe where traffic is routed by geographical location of destination."
On this Saturday, as October draws to its end, the Finns will be celebrating All Saints' Day and Halloween. The beginning of November also means that the Finns will have only one month left of their secrecy of correspondence in electronic communications. On December 1, 2009, the Swedish armed forces intelligence service FRA will connect its data fibers to all international data traffic junction points at Sweden's borders and will start copying every single byte of data passing these junction points for its own surveillance purposes. In practice this surveillance will cover almost all instant messaging, p2p traffic, web surfing, e-mailing, telephone calls and fax traffic from Finland to Europe and further. Only a small fraction of Finnish data traffic is routed through Russia, but there the Finns face an even worse state-run surveillance apparatus.
The leader of Finnish Green Women (Vihreät Naiset), MP Heli Järvinen, has caused quite a stir in Finland with her recent blog posting where she announces her support for copyright levies for mp3 cellular phones and for the disconnection of net pirates after warnings in French Hadopi style. 46-year old Järvinen shows her ignorance of the modern music distribution environment by characterizing Spotify as a "cloud music service" that does not compensate artists at all.
Finnish antipiracy organization CIAPC (Copyright Information & Anti-Piracy Centre In Finland; TTVK in Finnish) is playing real hardball with a small DC hub (BAWD Rinkeli) host from Espoo, Finland. The antipirates, working on behalf of Teosto (the copyright organization of Finnish composers, lyric writers, arrangers and music publishers) and IFPI Finland, demand astronomical 3.6 million euro compensations for the claimed economical damages to the copyright holders. These copyright holders, however, have not been able to specify a single work that has been infringed using the hub. Instead they reason that a lot of copyrighted material must have been moving through the hub, because the hub host has used a lot of bandwidth on his private broadband connection. Such an aggressive act with so vague proof has made headlines in Finland and raised sharp responses from the public. CIAPC, communicating and acting almost exclusively through threats and old school thieve talk, has never been popular in Finland. After their latest move the public's hate against them is truly tangible. Numerous newspaper commentators compare the 3.6 million compensation demand against the much lower compensations ordered by courts for killings, rapes and other acts of violence.
The Finnish Pirate Party, Piraattipuolue, keeps growing fast. Since its registration as an official political party which took place in mid-August this year, the party has attracted already over 2,500 members and is presently in the process of setting up its national network of local pirate organizations. The party has also an active youth organization Piraattinuoret (Pirate Youth of Finland) which engages the youngest generation of Finnish pirates in social and political activities on a regular basis. In a recent interview with Piraattiliitto, the chairman of Piraattipuolue, Pasi Palmulehto, confirmed that the interest in the party is high and that it will be only a question of time when the party will reach the membership of its closest rivals, Perussuomalaiset ('True Finns'), an EU and immigration critical party of 2,700 members, and the Finnish Green Party ('Green League') of 3,100-3,800 members (depending on the source). Both these rivals have seats in the Finnish parliament, with Greens sitting in the present center-right coalition government led by prime minister Matti Vanhanen from the Center Party.
Pirate Party of Finland (Piraattipuolue) has now collected the required 5,000 supporter cards and will leave its application to get into the register of political parties today, 1st of June. With the registered party status Piraattipuolue will be able to put up its own candidates in the next parliamentary election to be held in 2011. The party got a notable boost to its supporter card collection campaign from the Pirate Bay trial held in Sweden earlier this year. "There is a need for the pirate movement on both national and EU levels", party leader Pasi Palmulehto says. "While Piraattipuolue will focus its energy into the preparation for the next Finnish parliamentary election, the Swedish Pirate Party will no doubt show its value in the EU parliament."
The National Research Institute of Legal Policy of Finland (Optula) has just come out with the results of its large survey charting various illegal or forbidden activities among the Finnish 9th grade (15 year old) schoolchildren. This is already the sixth survey of its kind but interestingly the researchers included this year also unauthorized downloading among the 'forbidden' activities charted. The results show that net piracy is highly popular in this age group, topping the chart of illegal or forbidden activities. 29% of the study target group practiced unauthorized downloading daily, 69% had done it at least once during the previous year, and 74% had done it at least once in their lifetime. Two out of three persons reported having at least 100 illegally downloaded files on their computers. Two thirds of the downloaded content was music while movies was the next most popular content type.
Piraattipuolue, the Finnish Pirate Party, reached an important milestone last Tuesday when the Finnish Registry of Associations granted it the status of a registered association. The Finnish pirates had been keenly waiting for this formal acceptance as they will now be able to start their campaign to collect 5,000 supporter cards required to get their party into the Register of Political Parties. There are fourteen registered political parties in Finland at the moment, eight of which have seats in Parliament of Finland.