Both Säpo and the National Bureau of Investigation (Rikskriminalpolisen) want to be better able to use the internet to reveal terror plans and other serious crimes.
Options under discussion are the ability to infiltrate discussion groups and carry out surveillance using false identities, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reports.
“After Anders Behring Breivik’s och Taimour Abdulwahab’s terror attacks, we have to ask the question if the virtual world can trigger people to commit heinous crimes. If it can, we have to be there. We have to patrol the net,” Säpo head Anders Danielsson told the newspaper.
Both attacks have prompted Swedish police and Säpo to review their surveillance methods so they can more easily identify individuals who lack an economic motive and have no criminal history, yet are nevertheless prepared to commit violent acts.
An inquiry into possible changes is expected to be completed by the end of the year and may result in Säpo asking the government to update Swedish legislation.
The challenge, according to Danielsson, is coming up with an effective way to patrol the internet.
“We have the virtual world where we must be self-critical and pose the question: How can we, in a democratic way, keep tabs on what’s happening there?” he said.
“Should the police be on Facebook so that people can turn there in the same way they can approach a police officer on the street? Someone may want to say something about talk of strange or unpleasant things in a Facebook group. How can we create that possibility? Should we infiltrate the internet? Then we’re into legal questions? Can we do that?”
Danielsson added that the issues involved with how Swedish law enforcement patrols the internet are not only legal, but also ethical and moral.
In addition, privacy concerns must also be taken into account.
“A quesiton which always comes up, if we take Breivik as an example, is how long the state should go in finding a person who has very evil intentions? Should we check everyone who buys fertilizer? There are plenty of legitmate reasons for buying it,” he told DN.
“In a democratic society, can we not offer some guarantees that we can prevent this type of perpetrator?”