• Sweden's news in English
 

TeliaSonera 'profits by helping dictators spy'

18 Apr 2012, 13:01

Published: 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
Shock as Avicii pulls plug on 2015 gigs
Avicii at a gig in Stockholm in June 2015. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Shock as Avicii pulls plug on 2015 gigs

30 minutes ago

Fans were raging on Thursday after DJ superstar Avicii's announced a decision to cancel all gigs for the rest of 2015. The Swedish artist cited a hectic summer and his need to "grow up".

Migrant crisis
Sweden sees ten-year high in asylum seekers
Cecilia Lindén volunteers for the Al Tadamon network in Stockholm. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Sweden sees ten-year high in asylum seekers

5 hours ago

UPDATED: More than ten thousand people applied for asylum in Sweden in August – the highest figure in a decade. Meanwhile, volunteer organizations are reporting being flooded with donations for refugees as the scope of the crisis grows.

Sweden keeps record negative interest rate
Swedish kronor. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Sweden keeps record negative interest rate

2 hours ago

Sweden's central bank (the Riksbank) is keeping its key interest rate, the repo, at a record low of -0.35 percent.

More and more Swedish priests untie the knot
An increasing number of Swedish priests are getting divorced. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

More and more Swedish priests untie the knot

4 hours ago

The total number of divorced Swedes is dropping as more couples appear to choose to stick together. But one surprising group is bucking the trend: priests.

What's on in Sweden
Five fun events to make you laugh in Sweden
The circus is coming to town. Photo: Mats Bäcker/Underart/Cirkus Cirkör

Five fun events to make you laugh in Sweden

5 hours ago

Swedes are a surprisingly fun, as well as funny, bunch. Here are five events we hope will put a smile on your face this week as well as our regular interactive calendar of all the top events around Sweden.

Tax changes could cut costs for Swedish firms
Sweden is home to many of the world's successful startups, such as Spotify. Photo: Lars Pehrson/TT

Tax changes could cut costs for Swedish firms

1 day ago

UPDATED: Swedish Enterprise and Innovation Minister Mikael Damberg has told The Local about his action plan to turn Stockholm into the top startup city in the world. But critics of his proposals say they are too vague.

Euro 2016
‘I get a kick out of doing things that hurt you’
Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the press conference on Wednesday. Photo: Pontus Lindahl/TT

‘I get a kick out of doing things that hurt you’

19 hours ago

Sweden's star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has caused a stir after mouthing off in a press conference when a Swedish journalist asked about his business interests, ahead of his national side's Euro 2016 qualifier with Russia.

Hairy Swedish panties sew up artist's reputation
The hairy knickers. Photo: Private

Hairy Swedish panties sew up artist's reputation

20 hours ago

A pair of knickers made from thousands of strands of human hair has knitted overnight success for its maker. Swedish craftswoman Nina Sparr tells The Local that her efforts mirror a traditional craft that has been popular in her family for centuries.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

22 hours ago

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Secret anti-immigration blogger's name exposed
A file image of a Swede using the internet. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Secret anti-immigration blogger's name exposed

1 day ago

UPDATED: 'Julia Caesar', an anonymous right-wing blogger who has blasted Swedish journalists for writing an "epoch of lies" about the benefits of immigration, is herself a former reporter for Sweden's biggest broadsheet, Dagens Nyheter, according to a Swedish tabloid.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Gallery
People-watching: September 2nd
National
VIDEO: Swedish longboarder builds dreams with viral film
Sponsored Article
'It gives you the guts to believe in yourself'
National
Swedish billionaire blasted for 'lonely' Twitter rant
Sponsored Article
Nine places where Stockholm needs more English
Blog updates

28 August

Editor’s blog, August 28th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, It was all glitz and glamour in Sweden this week as Stockholm Fashion Week got..." READ »

 

18 August

Preteritum eller presens perfekt? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hello everyone, It’s grammar time ! I got an interesting question about the past tense vs present..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
Property of the week: Stuverum, Västervik
National
Swedish ship rescues 5,295 refugees
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
National
'Sweden Democrats will run the country'
Gallery
People-watching: August 28th-30th
National
Swedish bin men hailed as heroes after rescuing doomed kitten
National
This Swedish teen was told she was 'too big' to be a model
Gallery
People-watching: August 26th
National
Rescued baby lemur gets new Stockholm home
National
Stockholm Fashion Week turns island into Mars
Gallery
Property of the week: Stora Essingen, Stockholm
National
Swedish crayfish thieves caught red handed by officers
National
Veil soon to be lifted on new Millennium sequel novel
Gallery
People-watching: August 21st - 22nd
Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se
Presented by Stockholm Academic Forum
International students welcomed to Stockholm
National
The Bridge: What does the third season have in store?
National
Lucky escape for Swedes after 'dead' bear launches attack
National
Syrian asylum seeker comic: 'We don't prefer Sweden any more'
Lifestyle
Baby joy for Swedish crime queen and her wrestler boyfriend
National
Soldier accused of faking first Isis attack in Sweden
National
Fire alert as Sweden sizzles in summer heatwave
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th
National
Meet the Swede who is crazy for Norway’s mass killer
National
Swede's review of night in drunk tank goes viral
National
VIDEO: Swedish teen melts hearts with this incredible Idol audition
Society
What's a Swedish crayfish party?
National
UN: Sweden can't be left to shoulder migrant crisis alone
Gallery
Property of the week: Skogås, Huddinge
National
Men outstrip women for first time
Society
IN PICTURES: Wooden town resembles 'war zone' after huge fire
Gallery
People-watching: August 14th-16th
Sport
Swedish referee shuts viral Facebook page explaining his decisions
Business & Money
A studio in Stockholm or a castle in the countryside?
National
How did twelve skeletons end up beneath a Swedish castle?
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th
National
Millennium sequel author labelled 'grave robber'
National
Two metre long python stops traffic in Malmö
National
IN PICTURES: Shoppers pay tribute to Ikea stabbing victims
Technology
Danish 'monster' pulled out of Swedish waters
National
Bizarre baby baptism for hockey fan
Sponsored Article
Getting pregnant the Swedish way
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
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

3,165
jobs available
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:
psdmedia.se