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Sweden extends police eavesdropping powers

Sweden extends police eavesdropping powers

Published: 11 May 2012 15:40 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 May 2012 15:40 GMT+02:00

Sweden's parliament on Thursday passed a law making it easier for police to force internet service providers to reveal the identities of individual computer users in their continued hunt for suspected file sharers.

According to the new law, which comes into effect on July 1st, a person must now only be suspected of a finable offence for police to have the power to force ISPs to hand over the names, telephone numbers, and IP-addresses of individual subscribers.

The move is meant to make it easier for police to track down individuals suspected of file sharing as well as other copyright infringement crimes online.

The new law replaces regulations stipulating that someone must be suspected of a crime resulting in a prison sentence in order to retrieve user information from internet providers.

"It's a really good change which makes it possible for police to investigate copyright crimes that affect specific individuals," Paul Pintér, the Swedish police's national coordinator for intellectual property crimes, told the TT news agency.

According to Pintér, the new law will make it easier to protect individual copyright holders from having their works pirated or downloaded illegally.

In practice, most investigations into copyright infringements against individuals as well as reports of internet libel are dropped under current regulations.

However, Pintér doesn't expect the new law will lead to a marked increase in the number of reported copyright infringement complaints.

"The complaints we receive today are almost exclusively from copyright holders and there is usually some some substance in their complaints," he said.

The new law also expands police powers to conduct secret wiretapping of electronic communications.

According to the new regulations, a decision to conduct secret wiretaps must be made by a court, but the new also includes a loophole for prosecutors themselves to make interim decisions in cases which are especially pressing.

In addition, police and customs officials will be allowed to make decisions about conducting surveillance for intelligence gathering.

It will also be possible for police and other law enforcement agencies to carry out surveillance even if there are no concrete suspicions against the person in question.

Such general surveillance can only be carried out, however, if the suspected crime carries a minimum sentence of two years in prison and with a court-issued warrant.

Police will also be able be able to require telecom operators to tell them where an individual's telephone may be even if it's not in use.

The measure had the support of the four parties of Sweden's governing centre-right Alliance coalition, as well as the far-right Sweden Democrats.

The Left and Green Parties, however, were opposed.

"It's unacceptable to make changes that make it easier to access our personal information," Left Party MP Jens Holm said in a statement.

"All of our online communication should be as secure as when we write regular letters or talk on the telephone."

According to Holm, the new law "really undermines that security".

"To open the floodgates completely and start to hunt a whole generation of file sharers is not okay," he added.

But Moderate Party MP Ewa Thalén Finné emphasized that the changes made it easier to solve serious crimes.

"It can be threats, stalking, libel or adults who have sexual motives when looking for young people," she told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Anna Troberg of the Pirate Party, which advocates for a reform of copyright laws, nevertheless expressed concerns what would happen with the information gathered by investigators.

"It's ignorant of the Riksdag to think that these increased powers won't be abused," she said in a statement.

"Private information leaks out of police registries every day. The easier it is to access private information the more information will be leaked out and the more people will be harmed."

The new law was passed in the wake of Sweden's adoption of a controversial EU data retention directive.

According to the legislation, internet service providers will be required to data about clients' telephone, messaging, and internet use for six months.

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Your comments about this article

16:34 May 11, 2012 by Valdemaratterdag
"It can be threats, stalking, libel or adults who have sexual motives when looking for young people," she told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Yeah, sure, Sweden cares about child molesters. Here in Blekinge county, a man was convicted of seven rapes of children 13 and under, with the youngest 9-years-old. He was first sentenced to six years in jail, which was later reduced to 4-1/2 (!) years.

Don't tell me that Swedes give a damn about their women or children. File sharing, sure, but not children. Shame on you Sweden.
17:20 May 11, 2012 by jjoensuu
But at least the deviants (such as child rapers...I am not sure why it is termed "molesting" anyway) are a useful tool for the friendly government to come with proposals that give itself more power over information coming from others. And at the same time put some "add-ons" to the proposal while passing the law. Such as that of allowing law enforcement to carry out surveillance on looser grounds.
20:36 May 11, 2012 by billyb362
'Totalitarianism' has come to Sweden via the EU

It might be time to go home now
23:45 May 11, 2012 by asteriks
Swedish gov = Saddam Hussein. Politicians got money from entertainment industry and now they make the law for those who paid them and they will use police to satisfy mentioned industry. Well then this industry should finance and police so at least citizens should not finance cops if they serve corporations instead to serve people.
04:04 May 12, 2012 by ultra_materialist
They don't care about pedophilia and child related crime.

They are doing this to defend the Political Correctness in their country.

They want to protect the people that are responsible for 48% of all rapes in this country.

They want to protect the people that are transforming this place in a hell.

They want to protect those 20 guys from the Middle-East that raped a 11 year old girl and will be in jail for 4 years.

If they really cared about this country they would not bring all this islamic trash from abroad.

You know, when you live in a country where a politician when asked about the immigrant giant amount of crime(rape,robbery and murder) says that immigrants are responsible for most of the rapes because of weather...(yes, if you are a somali, summer will make you rape the native population) and the people do NOTHING.

Sweden is the home of the most coward people in the world....

With these new 40.000 somalis that are coming until the end of 2012, Sweden for sure will win the ultimate prize:

From European capital of Rape .......to

Sweden capital of rape in the world.

Bunch of cowards...
14:51 May 12, 2012 by skylarkpilot
Sweden has some seriously skewed policies. Chasing kids for file sharing, like shooting fish in a barrel !

Here in Falun we've had several case of attempted child abduction from outside junior schools, the Polis response ? more random breath tests on parents delivering their kids to school. Successes achieved ? none. The only reason we're not finding child corpses is blind luck.
18:53 May 12, 2012 by Abe L
All because the US threatend to put Sweden on a list with other dodgy countries. Utter and complete bullshit. Filesharing is NOT a crime - it's not stealing, it's not counter fitting and it's not harming anyone. It's an absolute disgrace that a law was accepted that made it illegal and it's even worse that laws that further invade the privacy of citizens is accepted.

When is Sweden as a society going to chase down REAL CRIMINALS instead of bullying hard working tax paying citizens with filesharing bs and speeding and parking tickets?
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