• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Sweden aids NSA-led hacking ops: report

TT/The Local/dl · 11 Dec 2013, 07:49

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

Story continues below…

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
Top Swedish businesswomen slam boardroom quota plan
Antonia Ax:son Johnson opposes the plan. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

It's a slippery slope, they say.

What's on in Sweden
Five great ways to kick off July in Stockholm
A ghost walk in Gamla Stan is one way to kick off July in Stockholm. Photo: Jeppe Wikström/Visit Stockholm

From Vikings to ghosts, music and more: The Local looks at five great ways to kick off July in Stockholm.

In pictures: Eight cool compact Scandinavian houses
Houzz.se editor Sara Norrman rounds up some neat but great Scandinavian houses. Photo: Sommarnöjen

Size isn't everything, and Houzz.se's editor in chief Sara Norrman proves it with this looks at nine brilliant uses of compact Scandinavian houses.

Brexit and the growing digital divide
A business meeting at Artipelag in Stockholm. Photo: Henrik Trygg/mediabank.visitstockholm.com

Modern tech hubs like Stockholm are thriving while smaller regions struggle. We need to close this gap and we need to do it quickly, argues Leif Rehnström, CEO of the Skellefteå-based Hello Future!

Brexit vote
'Brexit is an opportunity for businesses in Stockholm'
Could London's pain be Stockholm's gain post Brexit? Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/TT

The Local speaks to British business owners in Sweden about how they think the Brexit vote will impact their work.

Swedish police to hand out anti-groping armbands
A boy and a girl wearing the armbands. Photo: Swedish police

Swedish police have launched a campaign aimed at curbing sexual harassment among young people.

Use it or lose it: Swedish banknotes expire this week
The notes in question. Photo: Micke Larsson/TT

Make sure you don't forget to spend your old Swedish 20, 50 and 1,000 kronor notes, which will no longer be legal tender by the end of the week.

Foul-mouthed attack on young Swedish mother in England
York from above. Photo: Peter Czerwinski

The woman was told to go back to her own country after she was heard speaking Swedish to her children.

Meat-free days soaring in Swedish schools
Meat-free days are up by as much as 80 percent in Swedish schools. Photo: Lunds Universitet/TT

The number of Swedish schools ditching meat has grown significantly according to a study of municipal environmental credentials by a sustainability magazine.

Why these recalled Ikea drawers ‘can result in death’
Ikea demonstrates the potential danger at a news conference in Washington. Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP/TT

Swedish furniture giant Ikea said on Tuesday that 35 million chests and dresser units recalled in North America can 'result in death or injuries to children' if not properly anchored.

Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Is this Swede the new Vincent van Gogh?
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Politics
Citizenship applications up 500% for Brits in Sweden
National
The humble Swede who sent England home from Euro 2016
Blog updates

28 June

A message for British expats in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union. As Prime Minister…" READ »

 

10 June

i lördags, på lördag – time phrases for present, past and future (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! Swedish time phrases can be difficult to master. It takes a lot of practice to…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Gallery
Property of the week: Torhamn
Sponsored Article
International students in Stockholm partner with Nepal school
International
'A morning of sorrow': Sweden reacts to Brexit vote
International
Sweden opposition cools talk of 'Swexit' poll
International
'Devastated' - Brits in Sweden shocked by Brexit vote
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
People-watching: June 22nd
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Private
The Local Voices
'Swedes don't treat me differently because I wear a hijab'
Culture
How do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Culture
Coming soon: Sweden’s smelly fermented fish
Sponsored Article
The man behind Sweden's biggest music festival
National
Assange lawyer: Sweden should recognize UN opinion
Private
The Local Voices
Why is this Syrian dentist who hugs like a Swede worried about undies?
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Swedish nationalist 'shot and ate' lion and giraffe
Sponsored Article
Malmö: Home to the best food in Sweden?
Analysis & Opinion
'Sweden's residency revamp is harmful and inhumane'
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
Photo: The Local
The Local Voices
UNHCR boss: 'It's hard to start your life without your family'
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Politics
VIDEO: Brits in Europe say why UK should stay
Photo: Marko Risović
The Local Voices
World Refugee Day: Searching for safety in Europe - in pictures
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
National
Is Swedish nationalists’ foreign food ban bananas?
Gallery
Property of the week: Söråker
International
Poll shows huge support for EU in Sweden
The Local Voices
How a Syrian scuba diver mobilized Sweden's biggest asylum centre
Sport
Zlatan: 'If we'd been fighting for real, he'd be in hospital'
3,308
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