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Säpo wants more power to spy on the internet

Published: 20 Oct 2011 08:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 Oct 2011 08:46 GMT+02:00

Swedish security service Säpo and national police investigators want to see new legislation that will make it easier for them to carry out surveillance on the internet.

Both Säpo and the National Bureau of Investigation (Rikskriminalpolisen) want to be better able to use the internet to reveal terror plans and other serious crimes.

Options under discussion are the ability to infiltrate discussion groups and carry out surveillance using false identities, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reports.

“After Anders Behring Breivik's och Taimour Abdulwahab's terror attacks, we have to ask the question if the virtual world can trigger people to commit heinous crimes. If it can, we have to be there. We have to patrol the net,” Säpo head Anders Danielsson told the newspaper.

Both attacks have prompted Swedish police and Säpo to review their surveillance methods so they can more easily identify individuals who lack an economic motive and have no criminal history, yet are nevertheless prepared to commit violent acts.

An inquiry into possible changes is expected to be completed by the end of the year and may result in Säpo asking the government to update Swedish legislation.

The challenge, according to Danielsson, is coming up with an effective way to patrol the internet.

“We have the virtual world where we must be self-critical and pose the question: How can we, in a democratic way, keep tabs on what's happening there?” he said.

“Should the police be on Facebook so that people can turn there in the same way they can approach a police officer on the street? Someone may want to say something about talk of strange or unpleasant things in a Facebook group. How can we create that possibility? Should we infiltrate the internet? Then we're into legal questions? Can we do that?”

Danielsson added that the issues involved with how Swedish law enforcement patrols the internet are not only legal, but also ethical and moral.

In addition, privacy concerns must also be taken into account.

“A quesiton which always comes up, if we take Breivik as an example, is how long the state should go in finding a person who has very evil intentions? Should we check everyone who buys fertilizer? There are plenty of legitmate reasons for buying it,” he told DN.

“In a democratic society, can we not offer some guarantees that we can prevent this type of perpetrator?”

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

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Your comments about this article

09:19 October 20, 2011 by Opinionfool
Um, so Säpo wants to spy on the Internet but why bother? Most of its users haven't a clue about personal data security --- come on they use Microsoft Windows (an operating "system" that has more security notices issued by US CERT than the rest of them put together) --- or WiFi network protection, or of traffic analysis.

Or maybe Säpo have been listening to the English MPs who said the recent riots there were all organised using Facebook, which fact retrospective studies have shown NOT to be the case. And those "convicted" of inciting riot by Facebook didn't get one started.
10:39 October 20, 2011 by Kahmoudi
What does it matter if it led to them capturing potential terrorists or other criminals? All the Swedish legal system will do is slap them on the wrist.
11:28 October 20, 2011 by apelsin000
Why bother? facebook is a perfect tool for spying, just pay them...
07:49 June 10, 2013 by robban70226
There is no question that criminal monitoring is good. The issue is where is the balance?
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