Sweden’s crisis agency calls for return of ‘civil conscription’

Sweden’s Civil Contingencies Agency has called on the government to reactivate the country's “civil conscription”, which allows Swedish citizens between 16 and 65 years old to be given “war placements” in critical services.

Sweden's crisis agency calls for return of ‘civil conscription’
A helicopter from Sweden's rescue services during Storm Malik in January. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

“We believe that it’s possible to take such a decision rapidly so that we have enough people ready if the absolute worst were to happen,” Camilla Asp, the agency’s operations director, told state broadcaster SR.

While Sweden has never removed Swedish residents’ duty to do any role the government required of them in the case of a war or crisis, the system of civil conscription, or civilplikten, has been dormant since 2010.

Under the system, citizens are given roles in critical functions of society, such as the rescue services, healthcare, and childcare, and commit to leaving their every day work and switching function in the event of a crisis. 

Every party in parliament except the Social Democrats told SR on Tuesday that they supported bringing back the system. 

“The government has acted slowly when it comes to the development of civil defence, so now its crucial that every part of civil defence is brought back into place, seen in the light of the considerably worsened security situation,” said Pål Jonson, from the Moderate Party. 

Justice Minister Morgan Johansson told SR that he would wait until the Civil Contingencies Agency publishes its full assessment of how Sweden’s civil defence needs to be improved on April 29th.

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Swedish military bans TikTok on work phones

Sweden's military said on Monday it was banning staff members from using Chinese-owned TikTok on work devices due to security concerns, following a slew of similar decisions from authorities in Western countries.

Swedish military bans TikTok on work phones

In its decision, viewed by AFP, the armed forces said the assessment was based on “the reporting that has emerged through open sources regarding how the app handles user information and  the actions of the owner company ByteDance”.

“Using mobile phones and tablets can in itself be a security risk so therefore we don’t want TikTok on our work equipment,” Guna Graufeldt, press secretary at the armed forces, told AFP.

Last week, the parliament in neighbouring Norway banned the use of the app on devices with access to parliament’s system and on Friday France banned public sector employees from  downloading “recreational applications” on their work phones, which included TikTok.

TikTok is hugely popular worldwide for sharing short, viral videos. The European Commission as well as governments in the Netherlands, Britain, the United States, Canada and New Zealand  have told officials they cannot use TikTok on work devices over fears of ties to the communist government in Beijing.

The group has insisted that the Chinese government has no control over or access to its data.

But the firm acknowledged in November that some employees in China could access European user data, and in December it said employees had used the data to spy on journalists.

Beijing said last week that it did not ask companies to hand over data gathered overseas.

China “has never and will not require companies or individuals to collect or provide data located in a foreign country, in a way that violates local law”, foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.