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Goverment getting closer to surveillance law compromise

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Goverment getting closer to surveillance law compromise
09:12 CEST+02:00
A proposal to introduce a special court to decide when Sweden can monitor cross-border communications traffic is expected to help unify the governing parties around a new version of the country's controversial surveillance law.

The proposal to give sweeping wire-tapping powers to Sweden's National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets radioanstalt – FRA) presented an unexpected political challenge for Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt earlier this year.

Not only did he face a storm of criticism from the public and the opposition, but several prominent politicians in his centre-right Alliance government also came out against the measure.

A new round of negotiations designed to overcome the internal divisions has led to the suggestion that a special court be created which would rule on exactly what sort of cable-bound communications traffic FRA would be able to monitor.

“It would put a welcome end to the threat of mass-scanning,” said a centre-right politician and prominent critic of the original proposal, to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper).

According to the newspaper, all of the Riksdag leadership of all the Alliance parties, as well as the Ministry of Defence, support the proposal for a special court.

The new version of the surveillance law would force FRA to approach the court for permission to monitor specific, clearly-defined sections of Sweden's cross-border telecommunications traffic.

The suggestion would remove some of the broad decision making powers given to FRA in the original bill, which allowed the agency to make its own determination about what sort of traffic warranted monitoring and what parameters it used to collect information.

The special court's jurisdiction would also cover instructions given to FRA by the government offices.

Despite progress on the compromise, there remain several critics of the law within the government, especially within the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet).

Several Liberal Party Riksdag members are demanding a guarantee that only the Armed Forces and the government offices would be able to receive information from FRA, and not the police or Swedish security service Säpo, reports DN.

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