• Sweden's news in English
 

Sweden aids NSA-led hacking ops: report

Published: 11 Dec 2013 07:49 GMT+01:00

The documents, reviewed by Svergies Television (SVT) investigative news programme Uppdrag Granskning, show that Sweden's signals intelligence agency, the National Defence Radio Establishment (Svenska Försvarets radioanstalt - FRA) worked with the US National Security Agency (NSA) in its efforts to gain unauthorized access to computers.

An internal NSA memo from a planned meeting between Swedish and US spy chiefs in April 2013 explains that the Swedes wanted to be updated on operation "Winterlight (Quantum Project)".

While it's unclear to what Winterlight refers, Quantum is known as a powerful system for hacking into computers.Computers are hijacked, information is collected, and then sent on for analysis. The leaked documents from Snowden testify that the programme has been used against Belgian telecoms operator Belgacom, which has EU institutions as customers. The breach is under investigation by police.

The NSA memo explains that the US spy agency cooperates with FRA and their UK counterpart GCHQ in the hacker attacks. The Swedish intelligence agency fired "100 shots, of which five successful have been redirected to GCHQ's servers".While the British agency is planning to pull out of the programme over concerns it may violate UK law, officials at the NSA seem unconcerned.

"The fact is that NSA's goal the entire time has been to transfer this work to a bilateral agreement with the Swedish partners," the document reads.

BACKGROUND: Sweden sits on pipeline of 'intelligence gold'

The hacking is controversial in Sweden. In 2010, then FRA-head Ingvar Åkesson assured the Riksdag defence committee that FRA was not involved in hacking and that doing so would be illegal.

"We have authorization from the Defence Intelligence Court (Försvarsunderrättelsedomstolen) for the data collection we carry out," current FRA spokesman Fredrik Wallin told SVT in response to the new revelations.

FRA also has access to the NSA's most powerful surveillance system, the wide-ranging Xkeyscore, the leaked documents show. It has been described as a "Google for spies" and the NSA claims it reaches "nearly everything a regular internet user does" in real time and a short time back, including email, Facebook entries, chats, web surfing history, and more.

"With this tool, I can get at anyone in the world if I just have the person's email address," Snowden said in a previous interview.

FRA's statutes say that the agency can only spy on foreign targets, but Xkeyscore also reaches Swedes. A leaked manual from the NSA describes how it happens: "In this example, I'm looking for anyone in Sweden that visited a certain extremist forum on the web."

Hacking can be compared with how one "during analogue times" gained access to communication systems and cracked codes, Lund University intelligence analysis professor Wilhelm Agrell explained.

But the law has lagged behind.

"Sweden only gets to share some of the intelligence that we've collected for our national needs and should keep a close eye on the information that's handed over to foreign powers. But joint operations aren't covered by the law. The closer the relationship, the harder it is to stay within the limits of the law," Agrell told the TT news agency.

"This doesn't leave the legal and political oversight of the Swedish intelligence system with very high marks."

BACKGROUND:  Sweden passes divisive wiretapping law

FRA cannot check information from a hacking operation that is funneled through British servers, Agrell believed.

"It's not about the information that's processed and reviewed before it goes on to a foreign power. It's clear that's not the case. That's where we get closer to a situation where it must be subject to judicial approval," he said.

Agrell also wondered if FRA, through Xkeyscore, could get around the law and receive intelligence about conditions in Sweden from foreign partners.

"When you carry out intelligence work together in an integrated system, the FRA law appears to be a rather thin and flimsy support to lean on to secure the rights of citizens," he added.

DON'T MISS:  Swedes 'not afraid' of internet surveillance

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

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Crackdown on illegal streaming in Sweden
Popcorn remains legal in Sweden but a site with a similar name isn't. Photo: TT

Crackdown on illegal streaming in Sweden

Users of illegal movie and television series streaming sites in Sweden including Popcorn Time are set to be tracked by a Danish lawfirm representing "major Hollywood companies" and could face fines of around 2000 SEK ($231). READ  

Swedes' Easter holiday saved as strike called off
A strike threatening to hit Swedish holidayers has been called off. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX

Swedes' Easter holiday saved as strike called off

Tens of thousands of Swedes hoping to spend their Easter weekend in Helsinki can rest easily again, as a sympathy strike threatening to hit all passenger traffic between Sweden and Finland was called off late on Wednesday afternoon. READ  

April Fools' Day
April Fools' Day: The Local's 2015 gags
We had many readers fooled that a town in southern Sweden said "no" in a Scottish way. Photo: Shutterstock

April Fools' Day: The Local's 2015 gags

Did you spot our story about Swedes in a former Viking town sounding Scottish? It was one of a range of April Fools' Day jokes across The Local's network of nine European news sites. Have a laugh reading about our other red herrings. READ  

Analysis
Rocky six months for new Swedish PM Löfven
Swedish PM Stefan Löfven on a visit to the US. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Rocky six months for new Swedish PM Löfven

The Swedish centre-left coalition government's first six months in power since last year's general election have not been the whopping success that Prime Minister Stefan Löfven had been hoping for. READ  

Swedish pilots fail to reach deal with SAS
Negotiations between Swedish pilots' unions and SAS are ongoing. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Swedish pilots fail to reach deal with SAS

A deal between Swedish pilots and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is being automatically extended a week at a time after the agreement ended at midnight on Tuesday. READ  

Presented by ConnectSweden
CEO: Bromma 'essential' for Skanska's success
Pierre Olofsson, CEO of Skanska Sweden. Photo: Skanska

CEO: Bromma 'essential' for Skanska's success

The future of Bromma Airport has sparked a torrent of political debate, with supporters arguing it’s essential for Sweden's connectivity. But it’s more than that, says Skanska Sweden’s CEO Pierre Olofsson. It’s also critical for work-life balance. READ  

Thousands lose global TV channels in Telia row
Several channels are affected. Photo: Telia

Thousands lose global TV channels in Telia row

Up to 700,000 households that subscribe to Nordic telecoms giant Telia’s television packages have seen several channels – including Eurosport – disappear due to a dispute with broadcaster SBS. READ  

April Fools' Day
Sweden's silliest April Fools' Day tricks
Could Swedish supermarket shelves look like this? Photo: TT

Sweden's silliest April Fools' Day tricks

Alcohol is set to be sold in a Swedish supermarket, buses are introducing 'selfie zones' and Malmö football club's new grass contains cannabis, if you believe the country's newspapers. Here's The Local's round-up of this year's April Fool gags. READ  

The Local List
Six super Swedish family Easter traditions
Easter witches in Sweden. Photo: Lena Granefelt/Image Bank Sweden

Six super Swedish family Easter traditions

The clocks have gone forward and the supermarket aisles are piled high with chocolate delights. It must be time for Easter. But what do secular Swedes do slightly differently to other nations when it comes to celebrating the festival? READ  

Presented by ConnectSweden
ConnectSweden: Examining Sweden's place in the world

ConnectSweden: Examining Sweden's place in the world

Read The Local's ConnectSweden ambassador series, in which we interview prominent figures in Sweden's business, diplomatic, and cultural spheres to learn more about Sweden's place in the world, both literally and figuratively, and how international air connectivity affects perceptions of the country abroad. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
US spy agency to feature in new 'Stieg Larsson' book sequel
National
Beaver bite at Swedish bus stop
Sponsored Article
ConnectSweden: Examining Sweden's place in the world
Gallery
Property of the week: Åreda
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm is the 'Boston of Europe'
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
How this Syrian travelled to Sweden
Was Swedish TV host too harsh on nationalist leader Åkesson?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
National
Travelling over Easter? Don't miss our guide to rail disruption
Scandinavian airlines change cockpit rules after Greenwings crash
National
Sweden remembers Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer
Politics
Why petrol prices are going up
Gallery
People-watching: March 28th
What's on in Sweden: March 26th - April 2nd
Stieg Larsson's partner blasts Millennium trilogy sequel
Society
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
Gallery
People-watching: March 25th
National
Which words are changing in Sweden's latest dictionary?
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?
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

3,383
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