• Sweden's news in English

Justice Minister reluctant to store data

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 4 Feb 2010, 15:07

Published: 04 Feb 2010 11:38 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Feb 2010 15:07 GMT+01:00

The European Union directive, known as the Data Retention Directive, was approved by Brussels in March 2006, but Sweden has yet to implement the measure more than three years after its passage.

The Swedish government conceded to the court that it had not fulfilled its obligations and assured the court that the EU directive 2006/24 can be expected to pass into Swedish law on April 1st 2010.

But hours after the verdict was made public, Justice Minister Beatrice Ask told news agency TT that the government would not be preparing a legislative proposal on the issue prior to this autumn's general election.

"The extent to which private companies should be forced to store information about the activities of individuals is an important matter of principle. That's exactly what this is about," Ask told news agency TT.

The minister added that the government would at least wait until the completion of an inquiry into police methods, the findings of which are expected to come at the start of the summer.

The Commission decided in April 2009 to file a suit against Sweden in the European Court of Justice and the court published its decision against Sweden on Thursday.

The Data Retention Directive was championed by former Social Democratic justice minister Thomas Bodström, but the centre-right government has declined to present the legislation to parliament.

"It's no secret that I wasn't very fond of the proposal when it was initiated and I think there is good reason to exercise a certain amount of caution when it comes to gathering information," said Ask.

On two previous occasions, the Commission has questioned why Sweden delayed implementing the law, with the government claiming it was too busy working on the Treaty of Lisbon to turn its attention toward the directive.

Story continues below…

Sweden has been told to pay court costs, in accordance with EU praxis.

The measure stipulates that telecom operators store data about customers’ telephone calls, as well as information about text messages and emails.

The directive was passed in the wake of the Madrid and London terrorist bombings. Seen as an important tool in combating terrorism, it raised concerns from privacy advocates.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

12:36 February 4, 2010 by benomax
Does that mean every body living in Europe should not have access to their privacy? In that case it means telephone operators and internet providers will encroach into people's private lives.
14:36 February 4, 2010 by Thebinary1
A simple "request for clarification" should be enough to sink the directive.

For example, elements in Article 5 Section 2 contradicts Article 5 Section 1. To be even more specific once case that proves the contradiction is:

Article 5

Categories of data to be retained

1. Member States shall ensure that the following categories of data are retained under this Directive:

(1) concerning fixed network telephony and mobile telephony:

(i) the number(s) dialled (the telephone number(s) called), and, in cases involving supplementary services such as call forwarding or call transfer, the number or numbers to which the call is routed;

(ii) the name(s) and address(es) of the subscriber(s) or registered user(s);

(2) concerning Internet e-mail and Internet telephony:

(i) the user ID or telephone number of the intended recipient(s) of an Internet telephony call;

(ii) the name(s) and address(es) of the subscriber(s) or registered user(s) and user ID of the intended recipient of the communication;

2. No data revealing the content of the communication may be retained pursuant to this Directive.

FYI, the directive can be viewed at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32006L0024:EN:HTML

Here lies the contradiction:

1. A user has a mobile subscribtion service and decides to use Skype to make a call to somebody in Afghanistan.

2. The directive requires that the dongle's details, your user-id and surrounding info to be retained. Additionally, the recepient of the call in Afghanistan is also required to be logged. This can only be achieved by decrypting the SSL secured connection (using a brute-force or man-in-the-middle attack?) of the call and hence violating the second section of the directive because one would need to retain the whole data segment in order to determine the duration of the call.

And there we have it. In all it would be cheaper for Sweden to keep paying the EU fines (consider it Sweden's contribution to the EU budget) rather than face a lawsuite from its 9 million citizens for breaching the directive.
16:20 February 4, 2010 by JamesG
I can't believe Europeans are so willing to give up their privacy like this. I am glad to see the Swedish people and government at least recognize this intrusion into personal freedom. I would be wary of any government or private entity having this ability to track me. This would never pass in America. One of our founders, Benjamin Franklin, is often attributed this quote, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"
16:29 February 4, 2010 by misssh
just another step closer to one world government so if we dont stand up to this we will be just a number with a chip in our body having the upper power following every step we take via a GPS system

just a example of how much we don't know :


might sound a bit far fetched but that is the way it is heading people will no longer be free but will be controlled more than they are today... no right
17:25 February 4, 2010 by Rick Methven
This would never pass in America

Check out what homeland security is doing thanks to Bush
17:50 February 4, 2010 by Audrian
I agree With Rick Methven. The erosion of civil liberty in the US is a matter of record. During Bush's terms office, librares, for example, were required to report on those who read communist books to the homeland security.

The playing of the drama "1984" had started plaing long time ago during the Cold War era. It is continuing under America's "War on terror."

This open ended war is a war against other people's liberty. The argument forwarded is the protection of homeland and the preservation of freedome elsewhere, but in reality it is after money (market) and domination.
17:51 February 4, 2010 by historyshowsus
Wait, what? This is the same EU that blasted the Bush administration for gathering cell phone info? What a bunch of hypocrites.
18:01 February 4, 2010 by misssh
its all about controlling the human race like they are some kind of higher gods!

I for one am totally against this and so should you be
18:10 February 4, 2010 by livinginsweden
Hej allihopa...... read this latest news from Washington Post:

Google to enlist NSA to help it ward off cyberattacks

By Ellen Nakashima

Thursday, February 4, 2010; A01

The world's largest Internet search company and the world's most powerful electronic surveillance organization are teaming up in the name of cybersecurity.

Under an agreement that is still being finalized, the National Security Agency would help Google analyze a major corporate espionage attack that the firm said originated in China and targeted its computer networks, according to cybersecurity experts familiar with the matter. The objective is to better defend Google -- and its users -- from future attack.

Google and the NSA declined to comment on the partnership. But sources with knowledge of the arrangement, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the alliance is being designed to allow the two organizations to share critical information without violating Google's policies or laws that protect the privacy of Americans' online communications. The sources said the deal does not mean the NSA will be viewing users' searches or e-mail accounts or that Google will be sharing proprietary data.
20:15 February 4, 2010 by JamesG
"Check out what homeland security is doing thanks to Bush"

Why dont' you enlighten us, and try not to use the Daily Kos as your source.

"During Bush's terms office, librares, for example, were required to report on those who read communist books to the homeland security."

Really? Can you prove that... you know, from a credible source, not the Huffington Post or the Daily Kos.

It's amazing what people will believe due to pure hearsay.

If you want to talk about liberties being taken away, lets discuss Obama's Card check program which takes away the right to an anonymous vote when a union is trying to force its way on workers. That is a real loss of liberty. Good thing Congress is too nervous to pass such foolishness.
21:25 February 4, 2010 by VinnieD
I never understood why any country would even want to give itself up to be part of the EU. You would have been better off giving in to germany in the 1940's than handing yourself over to the EU. Sad. obama is trying to destroy our once great country - but we're going to put up one hell of a fight.
00:02 February 5, 2010 by xenyasai
I am not sure if Americans should talk too loudly when it comes to privacy. Have you all forgotten the nice little room at Ma Bell that was controlled by NSA? Or what about your nice Patriot Act that was extended to let people wire tap on suspicion and did not need a warrant?

Not to mention that I need to give away all my biometric information if I want to travel to USA. Privacy you say?

Unless you have a clean platter to show, do not dare to act all high and mighty.
01:20 February 5, 2010 by mec
Unless you have a clean platter ....

right enough. we're in no position to do a superiority dance over here. Nevertheless it's a good idea to tell such bullies as the EU, the UN and the United States Government to go pound sand.
01:24 February 5, 2010 by Jon in KC
In the US we have CALEA, which was passed in 1994, I think that falls under Clinton. That was the start. Due to that Act we in the US have to assist the Law Enforcement Agencies, local and federal, in monitoring individuals. The Patriot Act just makes it easier for the Law Enforcement Agencies to use CALEA. As to how much, well it all depends, phone calls being just monitored or tapped. Text messages being read, etc. Hacking email is far more difficult as the carrier only sees it as 1s and 0s.

As to the logs the EU will capture, not sure, but looking at previous posts, well it looks like a copy of a phone bill. My bill shows every call in and out and what numbers and for how long. I can't get a transcript of text messages though. And keeping this info, that is data nightmare. Think about this, one mobile provider may process about 20,000 text messages a second in its network, so how much room will that take in a day, a week, a month? Here in the US, unless asked to, we don't store text messages because it is just too difficult space wise.

I too believe it to be an invasion of privacy. I am all for assisting in a criminal investigation, but monitoring some college student who likes to quote Marx is a waste of time and resources. But when the public screams protect us, the government will step in and monitor every aspect of your lives so you can't hurt yourself. You could just all get prepaid phones and bypass it all. A new phone every month.
02:56 February 5, 2010 by Blogger Joe
LOL You go Swedes - Keep them out of your business

Screw off EU nazis
03:41 February 5, 2010 by Davey-jo

Europeans don't even know about this measure. This is the first I've heard of it and I live in the UK so thank you Sweden for delaying on this. This is another of those EU deals that pass well under the democratic barrier. If Adolf could have thought of the EU he wouldn't have invaded Poland! It's a totalitarian daydream!

Still like all daydreams it will end in tears and the streets will flow with red stuff once again.
07:40 February 5, 2010 by Makaveli
This is totally ridiculous to say the least. How much longer before little chips are implanted into every citizen so "THEY" can know when u eat, sleep, sh####t n F#####ck....Unbelievable!!!!!
10:23 February 5, 2010 by morchad
as if government would want to listen or know about anything you do. Really think about it. Suppose the EU or US or whoever has compiled your information....who you called, texted, emailed etc.....what will they do sell it to the newspapers??? Arrest you for having a dull life???? Come on people most of us live boring lives and are not that important in the eyes of authorities...really we are not. We live in a rule of law society..... if you are not doing anything wrong under the law you have nothing to worry about. (I'm surprised there is communist literature in U.S. libararies)

Do you really think some government drone is fishing through YOUR life right now.... just ask that of yourself and if they were what would the find??

I think some of us watch too much hollywood.
10:36 February 5, 2010 by Rick Methven
The problem is not the capture of the data itself but the potential for misuse.

Data that the EU now has to pass to the US on every person flying to the US can and does get into the hands of non-government agencies. A lot of countries especially the USA contracts out the handling of data to private contractors who 'loose' or abuse the data. There are marketing companies and criminals out there who are prepared to pay millions for access to that data.

I am not against in principal my data being stored by official organisations, but I am really scared of the potential for the sale and fraudulent use of that data
12:31 February 5, 2010 by Keltin
Thank god! There is someone concerned about individual privacy. The State will do everything they can to make it's people slaves. You know everything your people do, you control them completely. If you want to become a slave then let it happen. Otherwise fight it in the streets and the media, wherever it takes to do so.
12:41 February 5, 2010 by geeeee
It seems to me that most Westerners are under the illusion of being the most free people on Earth, and that they are free!! Unfortunately for them, I must say that they are being deceived and they are deceiving themselves in such a belief. Westerners are only good as soldiers in the service of their permanent upper class Emperors to fight other people, kill as many humans as they can and enslave others for the sake of their savage and hidden Emperors. I am so glad that I live in a third world country, and have not participated willingly or unwillingly in the oppression and the killing of other humans as Westerners do every day (knowingly and unknowingly). I have no illusion of the limit of my freedom, but I am sure that I am more free than most Westerners, whose lives are observed in their entirety and every minute.
18:08 February 5, 2010 by skatty
What the European Court of Justice doesn't realize is that the authorities in Sweden have already stored so many information about individuals in this country, which implementing this one might sound absurd to the head of states in here; however, sooner or later this one will be implemented too, even though it is not really necessary in a country, where big brother watch everybody!
20:40 February 5, 2010 by morchad
"The State will do everything they can to make it's people slaves."

The greatest sentence of stupidity I have ever heard. It might be true if we lived in Zimbabwe.

Followed by a close second.

"I have no illusion of the limit of my freedom, but I am sure that I am more free than most Westerners, whose lives are observed in their entirety and every minute."

I can't believe people are so paranoid
21:20 February 5, 2010 by orwellian
"Why dont' you enlighten us, and try not to use the Daily Kos as your source."

Why don't you just google it? It's been all over the mainstream media:

14:24 February 6, 2010 by locaxy
"The directive was passed in the wake of the Madrid and London terrorist bombings."

This is rich!

I feel safer already.
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