Who takes responsibility for content online?

The vision of The Swedish Internet Foundation is that everyone should want, dare and be able to use the internet. That is why we work actively to spread information and knowledge to the public, as well as to legislators and the judiciary, so that they can develop effective tools to counter illegal content online.

The Swedish Internet Foundation is favourable to an open internet that protects freedom of speech. At the same time, it is important that there are legal and effective tools for working against criminal activities and illegal content online. Based on our role of being responsible for the Swedish top-level domain .se, we contribute to this work.

The Swedish Internet Foundation's activities are regulated, among other things, by the Top-Level Domain Act, which says that we must keep a register of all .se domain names that have been registered by a domain name holder. There are also special terms and conditions that apply to those who have registered a domain name.

What is a domain name?

Each computer or other device accessible via the internet has a unique IP address, which consists of a number of characters. However, most people who surf the internet do not use the IP address, but a domain name. There is so that people need not remember the numeric IP addresses.

One might compare the IP address to coordinates on a map, which shows where things are. The domain name is then like a street address that allows users to clearly find the right place . Part of the domain name is the top-level domain, which is reserved for individual countries (eg .se) or generic top-level domains such as .com or .org.

How does The Swedish Internet Foundation help?

In accordance with the Top-Level Domain Act, the register of domain names must contain information about who is the holder of the domain, such as name, email and postal address. This information must be correct.

Some investigating and management authorities may decide that The Swedish Internet Foundation should disclose information from the domain name register. In these cases, we have an obligation to provide the authority with the information requested. You can read more about the disclosure of information here.

We have a team that is constantly working to check the holder information in the domain name register. These controls make it more difficult to use domain names for criminal activities. If the information in the register is incomplete or incorrect, The Swedish Internet Foundation has the right to suspend and remove a domain name. You can read more about that procedure here.

The "first come, first served" principle applies to the assignment of .se and .nu domain names. Anyone who first applies for an available domain name will receive it without trial. If you believe that someone has registered a domain name that you are entitled to, you can appeal the assignment of the domain name through the Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedure. You can read more about dispute resolution here.

In addition, The Swedish Internet Foundation participates in the work of drafting new legislation, and regularly answers government referrals on issues that concern or are close to our business or the internet at large. We also send out referrals that affect our operations to interested parties. You can read more about our work on referrals here.

We make several investments that serve to give all Swedes the tools to use the internet in a safe and responsible manner.

The Swedish Internet Foundation works actively to spread knowledge, and education at various levels in society. It includes legislators, the judiciary and authorities, but also organizations and individual internet users. We make several investments that serve to give all Swedes the tools to use the internet in a safe and responsible manner.

On our website Internetkunskap (Internet Knowledge), you will find movies and texts on how to use the internet and digital technology in a better and more secure way in everyday life. We also have Digitala lektioner (Digital lessons), which is a free learning resource with lessons that teach digital skills in primary school. With the Digidel network, we work to increase digital participation through meeting places, campaigns and educational materials. We also provide reports and guides that make it easier to understand and use the internet's services.

Why doesn't The Swedish Internet Foundation remove websites with illegal content?

It is not the role of The Swedish Internet Foundation, but the judiciary, to determine whether a certain content is legal or illegal. In this way, important aspects such as freedom of expression and rule of law are taken into account.

When a court decides to suspend domain names, the principle of proportionality is applied, that is, the decision must be necessary and that different interests must be balanced against each other. The Swedish Internet Foundation naturally follows Swedish court orders and decisions concerning domain names.

The Swedish Internet Foundation does not handle the content on the internet itself, and cannot remove material from servers and websites. The domain name can, as we wrote earlier, be similar to a street address or telephone number. What we can do is suspend and remove a domain name from our register.

It is not the role of The Swedish Internet Foundation, but the judiciary, to determine whether a certain content is legal or illegal.

Turning off or deleting a domain name is a complex issue. This can cause problems for other content that is not illegal under the same domain name which then becomes more difficult to access, such as other web pages and emails linked to the domain. Another aspect is that it can have a limited effect, as the problematic content remains accessible and can easily be given a different domain name, or accessed directly through the IP address.

Who is who on the internet?

There are several different players on the internet who all have their respective tasks to take care of so that you can reach the website you are browsing. This chain of those involved is good to know, so you know who is responsible and able to solve the various problems that can arise on the internet.

A person who writes and publishes content online is called the author. It is the author who has the direct responsibility for what they publish - this means, among other things, to make sure that the content does not violate any laws such as agitation against an ethnic group, fraud or slander. The author is also responsible for ensuring that the content does not violate, for example, copyright.

On some websites, such as a newspaper, there may be a responsible publisher who then has the responsibility instead of the different authors.

The one who registered and owns a domain is called the domain name holder, such as expressen.se or boingboing.com. In many cases this may be the same person as the author, but not always. For domain names under the .se top-level domain, as we have described above, the holder must register with correct information.

The owner of the computer servers and so-called web hosting where websites and content are stored is called the hosting service provider (or hosting provider). As a rule, hosting providers are not responsible for what others post on their servers, provided that they did not know the illegal content and that they removed the content "without delay" as soon as they became aware that it exists.

A content provider is a variant of a hosting service provider, which offers a platform for others to publish content on, for example, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. These can be convicted of contributing to a crime if an author's content is illegal, for example, under copyright or the criminal code. However, the content providers' responsibility for what is published on their websites depends on how they act - they must remove illegal content as soon as they find out about it.

There is a Swedish law, the so-called BBS Act, which was adopted in 1998, and stipulates responsibility for the person providing a service to keep track of messages posted, and remove those that "obviously constitute" for example inciting hate speech, child pornography or copyright infringement . Because of this, many websites include in their terms of service that they can remove content that they find problematic. One example is Facebook, which removes posts from its users that are considered misleading or discriminatory.

The ISP is the part that allows someone to connect to the internet. In Sweden there are several different suppliers, for example Bahnhof, Bredbandsbolaget, Comhem and Telia. Normally, internet service providers are not responsible for the content available on the internet, but in some cases they may be required to block access to a particular website for their customers. In such cases, this is decided by a court, at the request of a rights holder. The court will then decide whether the blocking of a website is proportionally weighed against the freedom of expression and information of the internet users.

The domain name reseller is called the Registrar. These are often also hosting service providers, thus offering their customers both domain names and web hosting, but not always. When you want to register a new domain, it is a registrar you contact, and there are about 140 organizations that handle Swedish domains.

The one that manages the operation and administration of a top-level domain is called the Registry. The Swedish Internet Foundation is the registry for the top-level domain .se and for top-level domain .nu.

At present, there is no special law that gives registrars or the registry responsibility over the content that is published online. The responsibility for how a domain is used instead lies with the domain name holder, that is, whoever has registered and owns the domain. However, it is common for a registrar to have a separate agreement with its customers, which gives them the right to take action if, for example, a domain name is linked to illegal content.

In addition, there are also companies that make search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Bing and Duckduck Go. Search engines are a well-used tool, and for many as important as a domain name to reach content online. The question of the responsibility of the companies behind these search engines is the subject of debate, but has not been decided legally. However, many companies have their own policy on content, and take the right to filter out certain content from search results.