• Sweden's news in English
 

TeliaSonera 'profits by helping dictators spy'

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
PM brings up death penalty on China trip
Photo: TT

PM brings up death penalty on China trip

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven broached sensitive subjects such as the death penalty and human right in a Saturday meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping. READ  

Saudi ambassador to return to Stockholm
Photo: TT

Saudi ambassador to return to Stockholm

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Sweden will soon return to Stockholm after a diplomatic spat, Swedish officials said Saturday. But an envoy sent to Riyadh stopped short of offering the Saudis an apology. READ  

Swedish MPs meet Snowden in Moscow
Photo: TT/Right Livelihood Award Foundation

Swedish MPs meet Snowden in Moscow

Three Swedish parliamentarians met with fugitive US intelligence agent Edward Snowden at a secret location in Moscow on Friday to discuss mass surveillance. READ  

Spring budget
Petrol to cost more as Greens get their way
Social Democrat Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and her Green Party deputy Per Bolund at a press conference on Friday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT.

Petrol to cost more as Greens get their way

Sweden's left-wing government proposed a hike in petrol taxes on Friday, citing the drop in oil prices and pressure put on it by its coalition partner the Greens. READ  

Swedish Nobel laureate Tranströmer dies aged  83
Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX

Swedish Nobel laureate Tranströmer dies aged 83

UPDATED: Swedish poet and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature Tomas Tranströmer has passed away at the age of 83, his publishers confirmed on Friday. READ  

Sweden Democrat head: 'I'm on antidepressants'
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson before his sick leave. Photo: Sören Andersson/TT

Sweden Democrat head: 'I'm on antidepressants'

Jimmie Åkesson, who is poised to return as leader of Sweden's nationalist party in April after months of sick leave, has revealed he is taking antidepressants for exhaustion and sleeping difficulties in an interview set to air late on Friday. READ  

Is Swedish super coach Pia Sundhage quitting?
Pia Sundhage, left, celebrating after Sweden beats Scotland in the World Cup qualifier. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

Is Swedish super coach Pia Sundhage quitting?

Swedish football coach Pia Sundhage's contract leading the women's national team runs out next year. And she has not yet made up her mind as to whether or not she wants to stay on. “If they asked me today, I would say no,” she told The Local on Friday. READ  

Stieg Larsson's partner blasts trilogy sequel
Eva Gabrielsson, Stieg Larsson's former partner. Photo: TT

Stieg Larsson's partner blasts trilogy sequel

The partner of Sweden's best-known contempory author Stieg Larsson has criticised the decision to publish a fourth installment of his Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, written by another author. READ  

Ikea flat-pack shelters set to house refugees
Ikea flat-pack shelters will be delivered to refugee camps. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Ikea flat-pack shelters set to house refugees

Flat-pack shelters produced by Swedish furniture giant Ikea are set to provide temporary homes to thousands of refugees in camps around the world. READ  

Swedish PM faces rights pressure in China
Sweden's PM Stefan Löfven talks to reporters outside the Swedish Embassy in Beijing. Photo: Karin Olander/TT

Swedish PM faces rights pressure in China

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven landed in China on Friday for a two-day visit. But on the home front he has been facing pressure to push more to get human rights on the agenda when he meets with Chinese leaders. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
Gallery
People-watching: March 25th
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm is the 'Boston of Europe'
National
Which words are changing in Sweden's latest dictionary?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Blog updates

27 March

Celebrating Three Great English Exports In 2015 (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Deputy Head of Mission Aidan Liddle joins us for another guest blog today. In 2015, England..." READ »

 

27 March

Editor’s blog, March 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Europe remains in shock following the Germanwings plane crash in the Alps that killed 150..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Is this house 'un-Swedish'?
National
Sweden pays tribute to victims of Germanwings Alps crash
National
Neo-Nazi activity rising in Sweden
National
How to make Swedish Waffles
Gallery
Property of the week: Torslanda - Hjuvik
National
Stray dog Arthur moves in with Swedish owners
Sponsored Article
Ten tips for succeeding as a start-up in Sweden
National
Sweden triples maximum limit at asylum centres
Gallery
People-watching: March 21st
National
Why elderly Swedes are among the world's happiest people
National
TIMELINE: Gothenburg shootings
National
Can Sweden's feminist party score success in neighbouring Norway?
National
Why Brits can't get enough of Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's solar eclipse
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Royal wedding countdown begins
National
Viking ring reveals Islamic ties
National
TIMELINE: Julian Assange sex allegations in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: March 18th
National
One in three Russian diplomats are spies, says Sweden's Security Service
National
Hitchcock opera set to hit Gothenburg stage
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Northern Lights on show across Sweden
Technology
Why Swedish pop star Robyn is pushing for more girls in tech
Gallery
Property of the week: Umeå
National
Introducing Sweden's Eurovision 2015 entry Måns Zelmerlöw
Gallery
People-watching: March 13th - 15th
National
Why have Swedish prosecutors made a U-turn in Julian Assange case?
Sponsored Article
How Sweden and India can work together
Politics
Who's the new young leader of the Christian Democrats?
Travel
Why are Swedes so obsessed with Mallorca?
Gallery
Princess Estelle celebrates her mother's name day in Stockholm
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Obama's anti-Semitism team heads to Stockholm and Malmö
Gallery
People-watching: March 11th
Technology
How a Swedish app is teaching children to empathize
Swedish grandparents put on disguises to snatch baby
National
Why Sweden may not be as gender equal as you think
Politics
Why does Russia blame Sweden for the crisis in Ukraine?
Gallery
Property of the week: Smögen
National
Listen to the English remix of a Swedish 'genitals' song gone viral
Technology
'Swedish women are strong and ambitious'
National
Why are 11 Roma people suing the Swedish state?
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
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

3,482
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