• Sweden edition
 

Olofsson claims Sweden has tapped phones 'for decades'

Published: 09 Mar 2007 15:27 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Mar 2007 15:27 GMT+01:00

Deputy prime minister Maud Olofsson has added a new twist to Sweden's divisive surveillance debate. The Centre Party leader claims that defence minister Mikael Odenberg's proposed legislation would merely codify practices that have already been in operation for decades.

Previously, at a time when all telecommunications were state-operated, Sweden's National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets Radioanstalt - FRA) regularly tapped telephone lines in and out of the country, says Olofsson.

It was only when Telia became a registered company that the need for legislation arose, she says.

"Sweden has always listened in as a means of ensuring that we have had the information necessary to protect national security. I don't think that is a secret," said Olofsson at a press conference on Friday.

"Now we will get legislation, which will also mean that we protect personal integrity," said Olofsson, whose Centre Party supports the controversial bill.

Mikael Odenberg could not say with any certainty whether Olofsson was correct in her assumptions about FRA in the pre-Telia era.

"All I know is that we do not currently have any surveillance on the cable network. For six decades we had a surveillance system with no regulation and absolutely no protection for private individuals. I think that is forgotten sometimes in this discussion," said Odenberg.

According to security expert Wilhelm Agrell, there is no general consensus as to whether FRA has been tapping phones for decades. He does however feel that Maud Olofsson has put her finger on an important argument that supports the need for new legislation, namely the deregulation of a former monopoly. This makes legislation necessary as a means of keeping private companies in step.

"In April 1948 the government reached a secret agreement to make telegraph traffic available to FRA on a limited basis. This concerned telegraphs to and from foreign missions in Sweden. That agreement has been made public, so it is somewhat difficult to deny it," said Agrell.

"We don't know if this permission was successively extended. But it is not in any way unthinkable that they actually had access to more traffic than they have cared to admit," he added.

Per Kjellnäs, former head of FRA, says that his organization did in fact listen in on telecommunications, but never over the cable network.

"It must be some kind of misunderstanding. We were able to listen in on satellite communications. I don't want to reveal the extent to which FRA did so, but the legal possibility was available to us.

"In the 1970s, 80s and 90s, a lot more telecommunications took place in the ether. Previously FRA was not allowed to listen to anything over a wire, we only had access to the ether," said Kjellnäs.

"I have a suspicion that this unpopular law that the government is trying to launch has come about as a result of a wish to legalize an activity which is some respects already exists in reality," said Agrell.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers
The Kockums Malmö shipyard and FMV headquarters. Files: TT

'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers

After the Swedish military raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp, a military expert tells The Local why recent Russian aggression means Sweden's Saab needs to take control of national submarine production. READ () »

Swedish kids crack adult content 'code' at school
A child, unrelated to the story, on her computer. File photo: TT

Swedish kids crack adult content 'code' at school

Swedish parents who busted their children looking at adult content online were shocked to find the kids saying 'they'd learned the code at school'. READ () »

Industry bellwether SKF recovers to turn profit
A file image of ballbearings. Photo: Shutterstock

Industry bellwether SKF recovers to turn profit

After a drab end to 2013, Swedish ballbearing makers SKF anew posted a profit in its first quarter review. It could spell good news for the manufacturing industry worldwide. READ () »

Swedish Hobbit actor jailed in cocaine case
Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt. File photo: TT

Swedish Hobbit actor jailed in cocaine case

Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt has appealed a five-month prison sentence, handed down on Tuesday after he was found guilty of buying cocaine. READ () »

Property of the Week
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
The property in Skinskatteberg. Photo: Fastighetsbyrån

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

The Swedish countryside is littered with small second homes, many up for a steal if you can see beyond dated wallpaper and imagine a country retreat with chanterelles and lingonberries growing in your backyard. READ () »

Puppies lost in 'black market' chihuahua raid
A chihuahua papillon crossbreed puppy. File photo: Shutterstock

Puppies lost in 'black market' chihuahua raid

Thieves escaped from a flat in Malmö on Monday with jewellery, electronics, and four chihuahua-papillon puppies. Police worry the dogs will be sold on the black market, a growing trend in Sweden. READ () »

JobTalk Sweden
Sweden's worst office clichés revealed

Sweden's worst office clichés revealed

"We have to hit the brakes and the gas at the same time." Does your Swedish boss confuse you? You're not alone. Swedes have crowned that phrase as the worst workplace cliché of the year. READ () »

More Swedes want to join Nato

More Swedes want to join Nato

Almost one in three Swedes support joining Nato, compared with just 17 percent in 2013, a survey revealed on Tuesday. The sentiment was echoed by the Finnish Prime Minister. READ () »

Elections 2014
Is the PM overstaying his welcome?
Kinberg Batra (L) next to the prime minister. File photo: TT

Is the PM overstaying his welcome?

Seen both as a statesman and a normal guy, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has a solid standing, despite his government's poor poll ratings. But have the Moderates prepared for life post-Reinfeldt? And does his successor matter to the voters? READ () »

Op-Ed
'Six-hour work day will hurt Sweden'

'Six-hour work day will hurt Sweden'

The six hour workday would punish employers who already struggle to find competent staff. And if parts of the economy slow down, so will industries reliant on them, argues liberal commentator Nima Sanandaji. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Advertisement:
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
Society
'Blondes have more brains': Swedish study
TT
Society
VIDEO: Leaked 'Save Slussen' film goes viral
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching, March 28-30
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

721
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com