Opinion: June 25th, 2008 by PO
Never has an event so dominated the Swedish blogosphere as the government’s decision last week to vote in favour of a far-reaching eavesdropping law.
The weeks leading up to the fateful Riksdag debate were characterized by frenetic internet activity, all culminating in a major demonstration outside the parliament building last Tuesday.
Opponents of the bill were at pains to stress that if just four centre-right members of parliament voted against the proposal, there would be no mass surveillance of all internet and telephone communications passing Swedish borders from January 1st next year. In the event, just one MP pushed the ‘NO’ button with one other electing to abstain.
Here we look at just a small selection of the hundreds and thousands of Swedish blog posts that have dealt with the National Defence Radio Establishment’s licence to snoop.
Late last week, a Centre Party functionary reported blogger Richard Slätt to his employer Strix Television following this attack on a number of MP’s who voted in favour of the law:
You can go to hell!
Fredrick Federley, Centre Party
Annie Johansson, Centre Party
Fredrik Malm, Liberal Party
Nina Larsson, Liberal Party
Henrik von Sydow, Moderate Party
Tobias Tobé, Moderate Party
Karl Sigfrid, Moderate Party
Anna Bergkvist, Moderate Party
You can go halfway to hell:
Birgitta Ohlsson, Liberal Party
In quite a lot of cases I have viewed you as friends. I gave a speech when one of you got married. I’ve spet late nights sitting up talking politics with you, mainly focusing on privacy issues [...]
To you I would now like to say:
You can go to hell!
Only Liberal Party MP Camilla Lindberg, “who refused to bend her back to the party whip”, is spared Slätt’s wrath.
As a centre-right voter grown disillusioned with the government, Slätt is far from alone.
Anders Gardebring, who describes himself as an independent liberal, has this to say:
For the first time in my life I saw a Swedish government vote through a proposal that made me physically ill. It gave me a knot in my stomach. And this is a government I helped vote into power. [...]
I can no longer support the Alliance.
Prominent liberal commentator Johan Norberg describes the law as “an epoch-making step in the wrong direction” and says he will not be voting at the next general election.
Many commentators have vowed to keep the issue alive and have already penciled into their diaries a demonstration to mark the reopening of the Riksdag. Oscar Swartz, the creator of Sweden’s first internet service provider, Bahnhof, is a case in point:
Let September 16th be the day we show that what happened with the FRA issue is not acceptable. The politicians’ arrogance and power-speak was so incredibly obvious. Naked. It was impossible to miss.
Johannes Forssberg reaches into his book shelf and pulls out a suitable quote from WB Yeats to illustrate the internal turmoil that has befallen the Centre Party in the wake of the surveillance vote:
Things fall apart: the centre cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world
Of the four parties in the governing coalition, the Centre Party was the most vocal advocate of civil liberties in the run-up to the last election. Many of its members have expressed disgust at the law and have called on the party to do everything in its power to make sure it never sees the light of day.
More recommended reading:
Centre Party member Per Ankersjö:
There is a great deal of disappointment with the government and the Alliance parties. I share it.
We Social Democrats who are against big brother will have to make sure the whole party feels the same way in 2009.
Eloquent, knowledgeable people are now turning their backs on the Moderates and the Alliance after the Moderates and the Alliance turned their backs on them.
LouiseP discusses what she dislikes most about the new law:
It’s the lack of liberal values stretching back more than 40 years that means that Swedish politicians don’t see any real problem with controlling our lives — all the way in to the bedroom, including what we put inside our bodies — and now also our communication.
Finally, for the Swedish speakers among you, a clever reworking of Dead Poets Society, which was posted a few days before the vote.
You are currently browsing the The Local's Blog blog archives for June, 2008.
"I confess to having been reluctant to embrace Twitter. But I confess myself a bit of a convert. The great TV critic Clive James once said about “Dallas”, “I came to mock but I stayed to pray”. I wouldn’t go that far, but I have found my first two weeks on Twitter (@hmapauljohnston) both fun and informative. It’s been..." READ »