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Sweden approves divisive EU data directive

21 Mar 2012, 16:25

Published: 21 Mar 2012 16:25 GMT+01:00

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There were 233 votes in favour of the directive, which is set to come into effect on May 1st, 2012 and has been a topic of Riksdag discussion for years.

41 members voted against the proposal and 19 members were absent.

"The data retention directive doesn't in any way live up to the standards we require of legislation," Green Party MP Maria Ferm said as she started the debate in the Riksdag.

"It's an infringement on personal privacy way out of proportion relative to its utility."

Ferm's party, along with the Left Party, have been staunchly opposed to the legislation, which is meant to bring Sweden in compliance with an EU directive from 2006 which requires internet service providers to store citizens' telecommunications data.

The Sweden Democrats, meanwhile, wanted to require that data on Swedes only be stored in Sweden.

And while the centre-right Alliance government had pronounced its support for the legislation, a number of individual MPs had claimed ahead of the vote that they would vote against the directive.

However, support from the Social Democrats ensured the measure passed with a wide majority.

According to the legislation, internet service providers will be required to data about clients' telephone, messaging, and internet use for six months.

Jon Karlung, chair of internet provider Bahnhof, is a staunch critic of the law, which he characterized as "mass surveillance".

In an effort to protect its clients, Bahnhof is planning to ensure that all of its users remain anonymous online by creating a system that would assign all customers the same IP address.

"And if they want their data to be stored, they'll have to pay extra for it. My plan is that our entire stock of customers can be made anonymous and that will happen in the second half of the year," he told the TT news agency.

Nils Weidstam from Swedish IT industry association IT- och telekomföretagen said the fines Sweden would have to pay for not implementing the EU directive are small compared to the costs associated with implementing the measure.

"The costs of implementing the directive will be at least ten times higher than the fines of 70 million kronor that have been mentioned," he told TT.

"We estimate the costs to be closer to one billion kronor. And it will be the subscribers who have to foot the bill, not only mobile phone customers, but also those who have fixed lines or internet accounts,"

Weidstam also warned that several companies would be knocked out by increased data storage costs.

Following the vote, the head of the Pirate Party Anna Troberg, also expressed her disappointment that the law had been passed.

"This decision uncovers a sinister attitude problem among those in power," she said in a statement.

Story continues below…

"They have lost respect for the individual and their fundamental rights. The data storage directive is not only unworthy of a democratic society, it is ultimately quite incompatible with it."

On top of this, Troberg believes the data storage directive will lead to a shift in people's normal activity, prompting them to forego visits to psychologists, marriage counselors, or attend events such as gay pride festivals.

The head of Sweden's National Bureau of Investigation (Rikskriminalpolisen), Klas Friberg, also cast doubt on whether the measure would help police.

"My assessment is that it worsens our ability to fight serious crime," he told TT.

TT/The Local/dl


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Your comments about this article

18:27 March 21, 2012 by Scorch
18:32 March 21, 2012 by Valdemaratterdag
It's hard to comprehend who this is aimed at. Anyone trolling the Internet for nefarious reasons is certainly capable of implementing software to hide all such activities through the use of Tor, Jondo, VPNs, proxies and the like. At the very simple end of the spectrum, a SSL connection to access your bank would amount to nothing of value stored with your service provider.

So, could someone more versed in the machinations of the EU and Swedish governments please explain where this new law would help the authorities in any meaningful way? Is it possible that this is aimed at file downloaders who would quickly overload the aforementioned systems for them to be of much use? Tor isn't able to handle the bandwidth of thousands of pirates channeling torrents through its systems in order to download the latest Hollywood DVD.

Perhaps the comments in the article are correct: this won't do anything to stop illegal activity, instead keeping the average citizen from using the Internet to self-diagnose or share information that would be considered to be on the fringes of "normal" behavior.
18:33 March 21, 2012 by Scorch
Since thelocal seems to have problems with long links:

19:22 March 21, 2012 by Abe L
Swedes concerned about privacy, what a joke. When are we getting rid of the personal number then? That is by far the largest breach of personal privacy in Sweden today.
19:48 March 21, 2012 by OUIJA
It is nothing more than Swedish Lilliputian, trying to act as Gulliver. The failure of the EU data directive will be catastrophal for the inhabitants of the Island of Lilliput (Sweden). The Lilliputians who approved the EU data directive, unquestionable suffer from the "Alice in Wonderland" syndrome, or, as coined by John Todd, an English psychiatrist (1914-1987, they suffer the Lilliputian hallucination, an hallucination in which things, people, or animals seem smaller than they would be in real life.

Thans to these 233 Lilliputians vote, Lilliputians will pay the stupidity committed.
20:57 March 21, 2012 by swedejane
@Abe L

21:57 March 21, 2012 by Opinionfool
Swedes are lucky. Internet users in the UK have their email contacts extracted, their mobile contacts recorded, and their web visits spun for 2 years! If Sweden is only keeping it for 6 months that's /slightly/ better.

Of course, any techno-savvy perp will be running IPsec over the links they are using for nefarious access and probably connecting to one of the many anonymising web cache/servers around so that even if first contact is made the various national spy-on-home-citizen organisations can't get further.
22:43 March 21, 2012 by BritVik
EU says 'Jump', and the Swedes ask 'How high?'
03:24 March 22, 2012 by Ranger
Wil it be a surprise if the rest of the world boycotts swedish products? The tourists are already not coming to sweden anymore. Keep it up and sweden will have equal rating with somalia and nigeria.
08:52 March 22, 2012 by Liquidmonkey
and we just took our first step towards big brother.

12:47 March 22, 2012 by brash
Why would Sweden ever agree to this?
14:04 March 22, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
@BritVik nailed it!
16:31 March 22, 2012 by JamesBoze
This change is very scary. When I was living in Sweden, I liked knowing that they were pretty open and didn't follow my every move. Now back in Canada, I discovered a product called SurfEasy.com, it encrypts your web data so that ISPs can't see or record your internet activity. Instead they just see data packets and no identifiers. Check it out!
18:16 March 22, 2012 by Valdemaratterdag

This is a proxy service with an encrypted VPN to through their website. This is not as safe as using an onion router such as Tor. SurfEasy must comply with law enforcement requests. From their website:

Furthermore, SurfEasy's standard practice is to keep no record of Internet Protocol addresses visited, except as provided in the following cases:

To respond to legal requests and prevent harm. SurfEasy may maintain usage for an individual user or account if there is a good faith belief that the response is required by law. See below for further information on the extent to which we may disclose your personal information in connection with legal requests and otherwise to prevent harm.

So, I would be very wary of using a service like this if your activities in any way may garner the attention of government authorities.
01:59 March 23, 2012 by Da Goat
Liquidmonkey you have been asleep again...First step ......you better get ya running shoes on, so you can catch up.

no this is just another step (probably round number 1000) in the slow march to jails without walls, maybe the number mentioned by Abe.L was an early step!

I no longer live there but I still have an Inmate number.
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