• Sweden edition
 
Sweden passes divisive wiretapping law

Sweden passes divisive wiretapping law

Published: 14 Oct 2009 17:38 GMT+02:00
Updated: 14 Oct 2009 17:38 GMT+02:00

An amended version of Sweden's controversial new signals intelligence law was passed in the Riksdag on Wednesday, with 158 members voting in favour and 153 against.

Liberal Party member of parliament Camilla Lindberg abstained, making her the only MP from the governing centre-right coalition not to vote in favour of the law.

But the opposition was quick to announce that the last word had not yet been spoken on the issue. Anders Karlsson, chairman of the Social Democrats' parliamentary defence committee, said his party would rip up the law if voted into power at next year's election.

"We'll rip it up, redo it, and do it right," he said.

The law had been the focus of the autumn season's first parliamentary debate earlier in the day, as politicians once again argued over the amended bill.

"Are we really, in a democratic country, going to implement a system which entails wire tapping the masses?" the Left Party's Alice Åström asked her colleagues in the Riksdag, according to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper

The controversial law gives sweeping surveillance powers to Sweden’s National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets radioanstalt – FRA).

Despite extensive criticism from the public and the opposition parties, as well as a slew of internal challenges from prominent politicians in the centre-right Alliance government, the bill – referred to as the FRA-law – initially passed in June of last year.

An additional round of negotiations last September resulted in a number of amendments, including one calling for the creation of a special court which would rule on exactly what sort of cable-bound communications traffic FRA would be able to monitor.

While the changes were meant to assuage the FRA-law’s many critics, the government’s efforts to update the bill haven’t swayed everyone, including longstanding opponent and Riksdag member Camilla Lindberg of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet).

“I’m all alone in my party and as far as I know there are no other centre-right parliamentarians who aren’t going to vote yes” to approve the amendments, Lindberg told the TT news agency ahead of Wednesday’s debate.

According to Anders Karlsson, the government isn’t interested in creating a just law, and has made no attempt to reach across party lines to develop a compromise that would satisfy political opponents.

“Personal privacy has been trampled in the name of political prestige,” he said.

The Green Party’s Peter Rådberg claimed the FRA-law was “one of the most important questions of our time”.

“The state is going to get unlimited power to monitor citizens' data traffic,” he warned.

Karin Enström of the Moderate Party countered that the opposition is trying to spread horrifying rumours about the government and the centre-right parties behind the proposal.

She said the opposition’s demand to appoint another commission to investigate the issue is simply a delay tactic meant to “bury the issue for several years”.

The law, which went into effect in January 2009, gives FRA -- a civilian agency despite its name -- the right to tap all cross-border internet and telephone communication.

Human rights organisations, politicians, the media and even the former head of the Swedish intelligence agency Säpo have vehemently criticised the legislation in both its original and amended form, citing fears of civil liberties violations and the creation of a "big brother" state.

Among other things, the amendment specifies that only the government and the military can ask FRA to carry out surveillance, that a special court must grant an authorisation for each case of monitoring, and that all raw material must be destroyed after one year.

It also limits eavesdropping to cases defined as "external military threats", "peacemaking or humanitarian efforts abroad", "international terrorism", and "development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction", among others.

It also bars FRA from monitoring emails where both the senders and recipients are in Sweden, after critics pointed out that even emails sent between two people in Sweden can cross the border to be transmitted by servers located abroad.

Those who have been monitored must also be informed.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

16:59 October 14, 2009 by eZee.se
Strange, no mention of the Pirate Party's demonstrations against the FRA law all over Sweden... from Gutenberg to Stockholm they have been very vocal in opposing this "all our citizens are criminals so lets monitor them" or "daddy knows best" FRA law.
17:59 October 14, 2009 by Rap43
The Local's politics are so far right I am surprised they mentioned any opposition at all.
18:29 October 14, 2009 by Gwrhyr
The Alliance-parties are killing themselves with this. With the opposition saying that it will tear up the law if elected next year, next year's election will become, in part, a referendum on the FRA-law (which should have been put up to a referendum in the first place since it has such far-reaching implications for everyone).

It's kind of ironic that it's the right-wing parties behind this law and the left-wing ones against, considering how the righties are always complaining about the intrusive state.
06:02 October 15, 2009 by RoyceD
Actually Gwrhyr in a Capitalist society like ours where the state holds less assets than H&M it is far more beneficial for the right to approve of a wire tapping law such as this. Essentially the state ends up selling its tapping services off to the private sector, who are the only ones who would want to buy this information, at relatively no cost. The information is used to protect and further enforce corporation domination. All thanks to our elected representatives :(
08:12 October 15, 2009 by bubbagump
@RoyceD and Rap43 Have either of you ever been outside of Sweden? The Local as far right and Sweden as a capitalistic juggernaut. Wow.

Anyway, it would be nice if The Local would provide a link to the actual amendments so that we don't have to hear it in spin terms from different politicians, but can read it in black and white. I'm against the patriot act in the US and am in principle against this. However, the last few paragraphs of this article makes it sound like all monitoring is based on specific warrants. That's no different than what the US and most western country's have had since the dawn of the telephone. I thought by the way this article started that this was a case of warrant-less wiretapping, indiscriminately on all communication (i.e. the patriot act). Again, can we get a link, too lazy to goole this morning.
11:32 October 15, 2009 by ShaneW
Nothing to hide, nothing to worry about , simple as that. We all want to be protected and this is an weapon against terrorism.

If this prevents even one terrorist murder of an innocent then its worth the law.

As for the Left Party opposing it, what a joke, their heroes from the Soviet Union listened to everything!

As for it being part of the election campaign, I cant see it, more people are concerned about jobs and the economy and rightly so!
11:33 October 15, 2009 by Rick Methven
Basically, the law allows the state surveillance of all cross-border electronic communications

http://www.riksdagen.se/templates/R_PageExtended____16402.aspx
09:36 October 16, 2009 by mysticbumwipe
Dear ShaneW, I wonder how you would define "terrorist murder of an innocent".

I can't help feeling this kind of blanket generalisation of some kind of global threat tyo our security is exactly the mindset that Bush's paradoxically named 'War on Terror' was designed to inspire. Actually many, many more people have been killed worldwide by America, Britain, Russia and Israel in the so-called 'war on terror' than have been killed by what we in the west dubiously describe as 'terrorists'.

So which 'innocents' are really under the most threat

of being killed by 'terrorists'?

I would say it is NOT us in Europe or America.

It's the poor blighters in Chechnya, Pakistan, Palestine, Afghanistand, Lebanon and Iraq (in all cases predominantly moslems) who are being killed by us the western superpower 'state terrorists'.
17:06 October 16, 2009 by ShaneW
I would define that as any innoncent civilian being killed because of someone elses political or religious beliefs.

There are enough whackos and cranks out there that make this law necessary to protect us.

I have lived most of my life in a country that has been bombed by militants, if a law like this can prevent another Omagh atrocity then it has to be worth it.

If this law had no merit then why would the Alliance Government introduce it? Hardly a vote winner is it?

Shane
12:10 October 17, 2009 by Lucys word
What a joke: "Social Democrats' parliamentary defence committee, said his party would rip up the law if voted into power at next year's election"

When they (the Socialists) were in charge they initialized that law - as far as I recall - and former left "winged Sweden" had very intense contacts with STASI the former secret service of Sovjet Germany (DDR).

I recommend the DVD "Life of the other" (original: Das Leben Der Anderen), what is a soft drama about the former German Democratic Republic where there was no right for individual, personal integrity.

Sweden is on the way to become a "DDR light" by this new law, I think.

Cheers, Lucy
11:42 October 20, 2009 by Bob Jacobson
I would guess (as an American guest in Sweden) that the FRA law came up in the first place and was subsequently passed to resemble US warrantless wiretapping laws was under pressure from the American National Security Agency (NSA), which eavesdrops globally on everyone, everyday, laws against it notwithstanding.

I can imagine that the NSA offered Sweden a "deal": eavesdrop and share your information with us, or we won't share our information with you.

Given that the US information is global and more complete, and thus perhaps more "useful" in curtailing potential violence, I surmise that the Swedish state cut the best terms it could in order to retain access to American intelligence while withstanding domestic criticism. Of course, the Government probably got no guarantees from the NSA and bought a large amount of domestic criticism. You might say, lose-lose..

Which begs the question: what exactly is any of this intended to accomplish? Billions spent on surveillance hasn't stopped terrorism, has resulted in untold incursions on legal communications, and makes everyone around the world that much more paranoid about potential techno-totalitarianism. It's a rotten business.
15:20 October 21, 2009 by SikoSoft
ShaneW: "Nothing to hide, nothing to worry about , simple as that. We all want to be protected and this is an weapon against terrorism."

Maybe it's just that I am American and view this a bit differently living here in Sweden than others, but I think it was said best by one of America's founding fathers:

"They that can give up essential liberty for a little safety deserve neither safety or liberty." - Benjamin Franklin

It's a matter of freedom. It's a matter of privacy. Every little instance we decide to allow government to control us, is one more step closer to living in an Orwellian world.

Believe me, I value my freedom a lot more than I value my livelihood, because life isn't worth living to me if it means I am not free. I doubt I am the only one who passionately feels the same way about freedom as do I.

It's like that saying: it's better to die on your feet, than live on your knees.

I'll take my dignity, my privacy and my freedom, thank you.
01:50 October 22, 2009 by Monty Clift
The real question is, why does a country like Sweden even need a law permitting wire tapping? Do they have native subversives who want to damage or take over the country? Of course not. This wiretapping is to watch the Muslims within the country. Like fools you allowed them into your country believing you were liberal tolerant people. Now look what you have!
07:35 November 22, 2009 by dato
Comment: i just wanna say .... what did russians wanted from us georgianns when they came on our teritory and said that georgians were killing russians wat was russian people doINg on ourr land eHH if any russian can answerr that questionn than you guys can hate on fukenn saaakashvilii who nobodyy! likess not even me! and i am georgian!!!! and there is noo differencee between putin and hitler... putin does same thing its jus slowly firts there was CHECHYA ??? wow wat happened to CHECHNYA eh anyone rememberrss?? oh guess what russians made them look like terrorists and whole world doesnt cares about them and now theyt actually are being terrorists as they hate russians and thats the only wayy for them to kill russian people! and now theyy triedd to takee georgia its just they knew that some of the countries would have helped georgia if they have come into tbilisi with their army! and they dnt have that strong army to take on whole world !
Today's headlines
Sponsored Article
On the move: Sweden's shifting mobility trends
House keys: Shutterstock.

On the move: Sweden's shifting mobility trends

Finding somewhere to live when you move to Sweden is a challenge. With changes afoot The Local caught up with an expert from letting agency Residensportalen to find out in what direction the market is going, and how Google Glasses may just help you find your dream home. READ () »

The Local List
Ten most disgusting Swedish foods
Salty liquorice, anyone? Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Ten most disgusting Swedish foods

Swedish food is, of course, a matter of taste. But it's mostly disgusting. Our loyal followers on Twitter and Facebook shared what they thought were the worst of them all. READ () »

Sweden wants cruise missiles 'for defence'
Defence Minister Karin Enström. File photo: TT

Sweden wants cruise missiles 'for defence'

The Swedish government has announced plans to beef up its defence forces by fitting its fleet of Gripen fighter jets with long-range cruise missiles. READ () »

Swede of the Week
Sweden's oldest would-be MP: 'They promised I wouldn't get in'
Swedes vote in the 2010 elections. File photo: Dan Hansson/TT

Sweden's oldest would-be MP: 'They promised I wouldn't get in'

Gösta Arvedson, 89, is the oldest Riksdag candidate in Sweden, but our Swede of the Week explains that the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) had to make some unusual promises for him to put his name forward. READ () »

Elections 2014
Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote
The Green Party is one of only two parties devoting their websites to the EU elections. Here campaign manager Emma Rung presents the party's posters. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote

The majority of Swedes feel the country's political parties are not doing enough to inform them about the upcoming European Parliament elections. Only two of the eight parties have dedicated their homepages to the May 25th polls. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping Brawl
Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders
Swedish police on the scene following Monday's fatal brawl. File: TT

Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders

The Syrian-Orthodox Church in Ektorp had tried to quell tensions between two rival families just hours before bad blood spilled into a massive brawl and two brothers lost their lives. READ () »

JobTalk Sweden
'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'
The bridge that connects Sweden to the European continent. File: L.E. Daniel Larsson/Flickr

'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'

The Swedish agency that helps Europeans fight impediments to the EU principle of free movement has revealed an increase in complaints, including one from a foreign citizen unable to open a bank account in Sweden. READ () »

Eurovision 2014
Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip
Sanna Nielsen in the new clip. Photo: YouTube (screenshot)

Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip

Sweden's Eurovision hopeful Sanna Nielsen released the official video for the song Undo on Wednesday, a clip featuring leather, slow motion destruction, and a frozen pig's heart and some violence. READ () »

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds
Swedish apartments. File: The Local

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds

A Swedish landlord suspects that a property fixer has set up a software robot to sign up for new flats on the market within seconds, and is charging house hunters to use the service. READ () »

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'

Twenty-five fire fighters were on hand on Wednesday night when a fire broke out in a southern Sweden animal park. The vast majority of the animals were unharmed, but the cluster of spiders wasn't so lucky. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
On the move: Sweden's shifting mobility trends
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 23
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Advertisement:
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
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
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
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 »

718
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