In a couple of weeks I’ll be teaching a three week module on digital media ethics, using Charles Ess’s book by the same name. I’m especially looking forwards to sessions discussing the ethics of surveillance and the section on global citizenship and the danger of ethnocentricity and the echo chamber effect – here Kristian Bj¯rkelo will join us with his expertise on right-extremism in Norway and in particular how it

Today I read about a current Norwegian case that will be perfect to discuss when we talk about piracy, surveillance and privacy. The Norwegian Data Protection Agency (Datatilsynet) has rules that NTNU (the university in Trondheim) can not track students’ data traffic to reveal illegal filesharing and also that they can not connect traffic to individual students in order to forward rights organisations complaints to said students. (Here’s a link to a google translated article about it.)

Students in the computer laboratory, Sep. 1980.
Students in the computer lab, 1980. UVic Archives.

Among reasons given are that we’re talking about students living in dorms who are dependent on the NTNU internet connection, but who wouldn’t have had a real choice in signing the “I accept” agreement – because living without the internet today is not really an option. The right to privacy in your own home is seen as more important than the right’ organisations case, which is not deemed of sufficient importance to society. The Data Protection Agency is requiring NTNU to remove all person information from their logs, though they may keep information for up to three weeks for the sole purpose of maintaining the IT system. NTNU may appeal this.

Obviously this is almost the opposite approach to the UK’s Digital Economy Act, which punitively removes or reduces the quality of offenders’ internet access (not quite sure how that is possible, really?) and allows for more tracking of data traffic.

And how does it fit with the Data Retention Directive, which was recently made law in Norway? I would love to hear your thoughts!

4 thoughts on “piracy vs privacy

  1. Hattemaker

    #DLD @jilltxt åpen forelesning på Ui #Bergen ?

  2. Dag Blakstad

    #DLD @jilltxt åpen forelesning på Ui #Bergen ?

  3. William Patrick Wend


    My Composition students are writing their term papers about online privacy this semester. I am going to add some of your links to the bibliography I am putting together for them. I’m looking forward to reading about your students work.

  4. Jill Walker Rettberg

    Great, William – and likewise 🙂

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