• Sweden edition
 
TeliaSonera 'profits by helping dictators spy'

TeliaSonera 'profits by helping dictators spy'

Published: 18 Apr 2012 13:01 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Apr 2012 13:01 GMT+02:00

The Swedish-Finnish telecom giant earns huge sums from deals with dictatorships in the former Soviet Union, but the contracts are often signed on the condition that the countries' security services be granted access to their systems in order to facilitate spying on individuals.

In Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Uzbekistan, for example, there is a system called Sorm which is connected to TeliaSonera's network and which allows authorities complete access to the countries' telecom system, Svergies Television (SVT) investigative journalism programme "Uppdrag granskning" has shown.

The system allows security services direct access to subscribers' telephone calls, data, and text messages, resulting in wiretaps which have led to the arrest of members of the political opposition.

In one instance, a man in Azerbaijan was called in to an interrogation by the country's security service after having voted for Armenia in the finals of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest.

TeliaSonera spokesperson Cecilia Edström told SVT that "police authorities have the right to access information from the net in order to fight crime."

"The laws in the countries go to different lengths in terms of the powers they grand police authorities to fight crime," she said.

Foreign minister Carl Bildt, who on Thursday opened a conference in Stockholm examining internet freedom, refused to comment on what responsibility Swedish telecom companies have when dealing with dictators.

According to Bildt, good communications are important for democracy.

"In general, I think that it's good that we participate in developing telecommunications in different countries. Having a working mobile phone system in Belarus is better for the opposition than for the regime," he told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

TeliaSonera, meanwhile, pointed out that different countries have different laws when it comes to tapping private communications of their citizens.

"In all countries, including Sweden, security services have the right, under certain circumstances related to fighting and preventing crime, to set up wiretaps and access traffic on the network. That's controlled by national legislation and we need to follow the laws of the countries we're in," company spokesperson Thomas Jönsson told the TT news agency.

"These are tough issues and nothing we take lightly. But as a lone telecom operator we can't do much."

However, insurance company Folksam, one of TeliaSonera's owners, was surprised by the report, which is set to broadcast in Sweden on Wednesday night.

"It's a little shocking that they house the security services in their own offices," Folksam's Carina Lundberg Markow told TT.

Martin Uggla, chair of the human rights organization Östgruppen för demokrati och mänskliga rättigheter ('The East group for democracy and human rights'), called the revelations about TeliaSonera's actions in the region "remarkable and scandalous".

"The information that has come out shows that TeliaSonera's claims that they act in an ethically acceptable manner aren't true," he said.

On Wednesday, Sweden's financial markets minister Peter Norman, who handles the government's management of state-owned companies, spoke with TeliaSonera chair Anders Narvinger and demanded he come to the ministry to explain what was revealed in the SVT report.

The Swedish government is the largest shareholder in TeliaSonera, owning just over 37 percent of the company's shares.

According to a government statement, the company will also be required to develop an action plan for how the company plans to address issues related to democracy in companies in which TeliaSonera is a partial owner.

TT/The Local/dl

twitter.com/thelocalsweden

Your comments about this article

13:58 April 18, 2012 by Kr0n
When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

It is not TeliaSonera's fault. They want to earn money in Russia, and they have to follow Russian laws, not Swedish ones. It is so simple! For the curious, SORM (with all caps) is an abbreviation, meaning "Sistema Operativno-Rozysknykh Meropriyatii" or in English - System for Operative Search Activities (SOSA). It is implemented at every operator's own expense, for wireless and fixed lines alike. Operators must, by law, provide a special room on their premises for state security officers. And it is also cheaper than establishing secure high-speed channels from each operator to the central offices of each (and there are many) security service in Russia. The same is true also for other ex-USSR countries.

In Russia, the phone calls You!
14:17 April 18, 2012 by Abe L
completely agree with #1 - This is how you do business and make money in countries like Russia, China and Brazil.

This isn't shocking or negative and it's definitely not helping dictators spy.
14:32 April 18, 2012 by gpafledthis
#3 agrees with # 1&2
15:55 April 18, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
#2 It's also how you make money by selling telecommunications equipment and software to the USA.

The USA spies on its own citizens through unauthorized wire taps, among other means, and in other cases the police there and elsewhere in so-called non-dictatorship democracies are granted access to phone and email records with what is often only a trival effort before a government-appointed magistrate.

Hardware and software providers have to include thesecinterception capabilities for sales almost anywhere in the world. So no need for TL or other media to suggest to Swedes that they are bad people because one of their joint ventures with Finland happens to sell equipment that has this industry standard capability.
19:17 April 18, 2012 by Trenatos
You know, I don't mind this, as long as all they're getting access to is the systems and traffic within their countries.

Most countries have laws such that their police or security services can get access to various telecom systems, not abiding by these laws can mean anything from fines to being shut down as a business.
20:09 April 18, 2012 by sgt_doom
No wonder Wikileaks' Julian Assange is so wary of the senseless action by the schizoid Swedish government in their attempt to extradite him; especially given the abysmal record of Sweden's past guilt with aiding in American extreme rendition.

Swedish courts have found in favor of several Arab-Swedes who were erroneously extreme renditioned - or kidnapped -- for torture.

The Justice Minister at that time, Thomas Bodström, recently went on a tour in America, and lied his butt off, falsely claiming that Assange "fled Sweden" to avoid a trial, when clearly the facts prove otherwise!

Assange stayed in Sweden for questioning, after the case against him was dropped for lack of evidence, then restarted due to political pressure brought to bear on the Swedish Prosecution Authority.

Assange's attorney asked for permission for Assange to leave Sweden, since they refused to question him during the month he remained available for questioning!

Yet Thomas Bodström lies and lies about this, just as he colluded with America in their illegal kidnapping when he was justice minister.
02:48 April 19, 2012 by rolfkrohna
As Sweden has developed the most sophisticated ever in world history system for supervision and control of the individual, far beyond any Orwell 1984, it is no wonder every state, be it USA, Saudi Arabia, or North Korea, that want to suppress and control its population would be interested. Swedish main export is dictatorship tools today, primarily economic and technical tools.
11:08 April 19, 2012 by indeedmagnifier
The most stupid announcement ever heard in my life of two hypocrites, Cecilia Edström and Carl Bildt.

Why are you not saying that you are cooperating with the dictators? What are your values regarding human rights, so as your reasoning fraud "the death is good but not for you, it is just good for the neighbor"in your hypocrite opinions!

Is that your business to make good person of dictators? The biggest criminals in those countries are the dictator Governments that you are collaborating with!

You are deceiving the public opinion by these unintelligent reasons. And everybody knows and you know that those dictators are using your tecnologi to fight against freedom seekers not for the fight against the crimes. Opposite to your opinion they support the crime by means of your technology. Your hands are in the blood of the freedom seekers!

Be honest at least a little while with yourselves both Cecilia Edström and CarlBildt. With your weapon selling and your this kind of technology selling, you are striking the drums of war for especially poor countries.

So prepare at least half of Swedish land for billions of refugees escaping from Asia, Africa, central and south America. You are responsible for your criminal minds and behaviors. Prepare Sweden for lots of refugees and don't claime that why they are leaving their countries!
03:11 February 22, 2013 by NatPoSloLingoUKno
Från De Nationella Poet Slovenien På Ett Språk Människor Förstår

LARS LAUGH

Lars' last jobs prior to bad bank career, are

NCR, then TeliaSonera.

With his non-laundry checkie

On 3G bands Uzbeki

He's condemned to do bad bank Slovenia.

http://is.gd/z49CbN

The National Poet Of Slovenia In A Language People Understand interprets important Slovenian affairs for the non-Slovene speaking world. www.maria.si
Today's headlines
Business & Money
US and Japan fuel surge for Volvo trucks
Ed Carbaugh prepares to install parts on a truck engine on an assembly line at Volvo Trucks' powertrain manufacturing facility in Hagerstown, Maryland, March 2014. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

US and Japan fuel surge for Volvo trucks

Sweden's Volvo, the world's second-largest maker of trucks, said Friday it saw a spike in profits in the third quarter, boosted by thriving sales in the US and Japanese markets. READ  

Inspectors attacked at rogue doc’s surgery
Cigarettes and beer photo: Shutterstock

Inspectors attacked at rogue doc’s surgery

Inspectors who were sent to shut down a doctor’s surgery in Gothenburg were physically attacked and fled the premises to get help from the police. READ  

Interview
'Too many concerts feel the same'
Sofar hosts secret gigs in Swedish apartments. Photo: Sofar

'Too many concerts feel the same'

Kattis Bjork founded Stockholm's secret gig scene - Sofar - a year ago. The Local caught up with her as she prepared to celebrate the project's anniversary this weekend and revealed the concept will spread to other Swedish cities in 2015. READ  

Police turn Swede’s vodka into water
A Swede loads a car with alcohol in northern Germany. File photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT

Police turn Swede’s vodka into water

Swedish police say they will pay a man 16,000 kronor ($2,200) in damages after much of the alcohol they confiscated from him was stolen, while many of the bottles they returned were filled with water. READ  

Diplomacy
US to get first female ambassador in Sweden
File photo: Athena Center for Leadership Studies

US to get first female ambassador in Sweden

The United States Embassy in Stockholm is set to get its first female ambassador after the White House announced it was nominating the Iranian-American ex-investment banker Azita Raji to take over from Mark Brzezinski. READ  

Neo-Nazi attacks
Neo-Nazis cleared of knife attack on Nigerian
Police intervene after neo-Nazis attack an anti-Nazi rally in Kärrtorp, December 2013. Photo: Hampus Andersson/TT

Neo-Nazis cleared of knife attack on Nigerian

A Stockholm court has cleared three neo-Nazis of stabbing a Nigerian man in an unprovoked attack. But two of the men will face jail after they were convicted of racial agitation at a riot. READ  

Julian Assange
Assange court ruling expected on Monday
Julian Assange at Ecuador's embassy in the UK. Photo: Anthony Devlin

Assange court ruling expected on Monday

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can expect the next court ruling on his case to take place on Monday October 27th in Stockholm. READ  

Stockholm 'sub hunt'
Sweden calls off suspect submarine search
Ships are returning to shore in Sweden. Photo: TT

Sweden calls off suspect submarine search

The core search for a suspected foreign vessel in Swedish waters has been called off. The armed forces said they remained convinced foreign underwater activity had taken place but had not identified an intruder. READ  

Politics
Sweden to get EU 'Christmas present'
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at an EU summit in Brussels this week. Photo: TT

Sweden to get EU 'Christmas present'

Sweden is set to get 1.2 billion kronor ($168 million) back from the EU on December 1st, according to leaked EU documents which suggest that other European countries will have to make large top-up payments this year. READ  

Science
Asteroids leave mark on Sweden
Astroids can leave marks like these. Photo: TT

Asteroids leave mark on Sweden

Some 458 million years ago, Earth was whacked in a double asteroid strike, leaving craters visible in Sweden today, space scientists have reported. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
Blog updates

24 October

Editor’s blog, October 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Get ready to read our weekly digest of Swedish news in less than 60 seconds. The..." READ »

 

24 October

Is darkness weather? (Blogweiser) »

"I try very hard not to talk about the weather. This has come after a decade..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Get 20% off unique Swedish homeware
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
Gallery
People-watching: October 19th
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: October 17th - 24th
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
What's on in Sweden: October 10th - 17th
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Society
My Swedish Career: A French fashionista in Sweden
Society
Swede's anti-bully Facebook tale goes viral
Society
Have you seen Sweden's viral subway cancer campaign?
National
Isis: Swedes linked to Turkish prisoner swap
National
Should Swedes be banned from buying sex abroad?
Gallery
Fredrik Reinfeldt's leaving presents
National
Five Swedish TV shows you shouldn't miss
Gallery
A tool belt, a casserole, and a book. Fredrik Reinfeldt's parliament gifts
TT
Lifestyle
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
TT
National
Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve
Gallery
Property of the Week: Gamla Enskede
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

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 Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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

979
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
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN