What’s up with the Swedes?

June 14, 2008 at 3:27 am 10 comments

Kim Photo -- BluesI heard rumblings of this last week but have found it difficult to track down details, so I may not have a complete and accurate picture yet. The Swedes are about to pass a piece of legislation that Bush would be immensely proud of. Next Tuesday, June 17, the Swedish Parliament looks set to pass this startling law (which I won’t attempt to write or pronounce in Swedish). For the non-Swedes amongst us this Bill should be called any of the following:

  • undemocratic
  • a complete abuse of civil rights
  • better than the Stasi could ever come up with
  • Big Brother in CAPS

When I think of Sweden I think of (predictable I know) ABBA, IKEA and a lot of funky design. I don’t think of Sweden as being in the grip of Big Brother. But alas, there’s clearly something in the Swedish water for this is what’s happening:

  • the Bill is roughly translated to “a better adapted military intelligence gathering”
  • it gives Sweden’s National Defense Radio Establishment (or FRA) wide sweeping powers to monitor all incoming and outgoing telephony traffic, which means web searches, emails, phone calls and faxes
  • say what?? let’s hear that again – ALL web, email and telephone traffic going into or out of Sweden.
  • let’s pause for a moment to consider that internet searches are often routed through countries on the way to their final destination, so data contained within the traffic routing through Swedish borders MAY NOT EVEN CONCERN the Swedes!!

It gets worse. All telephone companies and ISPs will be required to link up to the FRA’s supercomputer (apparently, the fifth most powerful computer on the planet). This is why the law is known as The FRA Law. The FRA will search the data in real time and match keywords against a list of 250,000. If any communication or web search contains an offending keyword or two it will be hauled aside for further analysis (along no doubt with the person who made the call, sent the email or searched the internet).

Some 500 Swedish authorities will be able to request searches and analysis, including the police, secret service, customs. Even business will be able to participate in this wild wiretapping frenzy although they will have to make a request through a Government authority. And the Bill allows Swedish citizens to be singled out and targeted.

According to the Swedish Pirate Party (gotta love that name) a majority of Parliamentary members back the Bill so it’s likely to pass. Very little has been mentioned of this in English language blogs or newspapers (that I can find anyway). But Google (who I normally rant and rave about) is actually against this Bill. Google? Yes, Google who see no reason they cannot drive up your driveway, take a photo of your house and smack said photo onto Google Maps or Street View. Even Google is up in arms about this Bill.

Google has slammed it for being illiberal and undemocratic – you go Google! Google’s global privacy officer (they have one?) said: “We have contacted Swedish authorities to give our view of the proposal and we have made it clear that we will never place any servers inside Sweden’s borders if the proposal goes through. We simply cannot compromise our users’ integrity by allowing Swedish authorities access to data that may not even concern Swedish activity”.

TeliaSonera, the Nordic and Baltic telecommunications provider, is planning to move its servers out of Sweden to protect the privacy of its Finnish customers.

The leader of the Swedish Pirate Party, Rick Falkvinge, has a great summary of the Bill and its history here. Not exactly objective I guess but it’s the only detailed summary I could find.

Talk about a Government having wide-sweeping powers to wire-tap and snoop. Should this Bill pass next Tuesday, then we should mark June 17 2008 as the day that the Swedish people lost any expectation of privacy and became instead a society that is watched and surveilled every moment of the day.

I don’t understand why news wires and blogs haven’t picked up on this – shouldn’t we be extremely concerned that this dark threat to privacy is happening??

Source: The Register


Entry filed under: Google, Privacy, Surveillance society. Tags: , , .

The wrong object was shot I can see through you

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. purpleflagship  |  June 17, 2008 at 4:55 am

    I’m very much new to the act of actually bloging , but your post inspired me to give it a try.


  • 2. thinkingshift  |  June 17, 2008 at 6:38 am

    I checked out your blog, looking good. The Swedish wiretapping I see you blogged about – what are your thoughts on the situation?

  • 3. Per  |  June 17, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    The Swedish people is raging about this. The situation could be described as the Swedish people versus the government.

  • 4. thinkingshift  |  June 18, 2008 at 5:16 am

    Per: can you tell us what actions the Swedish people are taking to prevent the legislation from passing?

  • 5. Tor  |  June 18, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Im crying. Sweden is a dead nation.

  • 6. Marko  |  June 18, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Well, I can inform you that the government voted yes for the law. From now on, Sweden is as good as ye’ olde DDR or CCCP. Congratz to us. I wonder how Russia feels about this new law, since 80% of their internet trafic goes through Sweden…

    This law was meant to protect us from crap like terrorism (yeah, like that would happen in Sweden), but instead we made ourself an enemy in Russia. Doesn’t feel that good.

  • 7. thinkingshift  |  June 18, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    I heard it had passed – I don’t even think the Swedish people got to vote on this did they? I’ll find out what’s happened and do a blog post. A sad day for the Swedes that this FRA law has passed. Interesting what you say about Russia & internet traffic too.

  • 8. coweringcitizen  |  June 19, 2008 at 9:41 am

    The law has been passed, it got a yes vote. Only 4 MPs voting no could have put this madness to rest, but sadly 4 MPs was too much.

    Sweish media said less than you’d expect for something of this magnitude will have far reaching implications for the EU members and the world at large – a quick tutotial on how internet (TCP/IP) commuications work will reveal that geographical borders are not how traffic is routed.

    Anyway, an english language newspaper had this to say a day before the vote

    A last minute appeal was made (IMO it was an ‘ I’m gonna vote yes, but I tried’ …Federly did vote yes eventually anyway
    a few concessions were made to have a committee oversee this fiasco, but who is that committee responsible to?

    this was the outcome…..

    Google have said there will be no local servers in Sweden anymore but that is of on consequence as a defence minister signed an agreement with the US a week prior to ‘share information’

  • 9. coweringcitizen  |  June 19, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Oh! I forgot this quote I was gonna put in there

    * Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin

  • 10. thinkingshift  |  June 19, 2008 at 10:08 am

    coweringcitizen (luv your name), thx for the extensive update, really appreciated. A sad for he Swedes. I’ll blog further on this.


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