Sweden Approves Bill To Tap All Forms Of Communication

from the you-have-no-privacy-anywhere dept

Recently, we had mentioned a bill under consideration in Sweden that would open up all forms of communication to government monitoring, and Slashdot passes on the news that the bill has been narrowly approved. Apparently a few “safeguards” were added, though those were not detailed in the article. There’s still plenty of controversy about this, but it seems like yet another law put in place by those who do not understand the law of unintended consequences. This law will be abused — and the privacy of many people will be at risk. As for those who are actually planning terrorist attacks or whatever, they’ll quickly migrate to more secure forms of communication (if they hadn’t already).

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Sweden Approves Bill To Tap All Forms Of Communication”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Jonas says:

The “safeguards” are pretty much useless since they basically amount to “Let’s let another government agency outside of the Swedish equivalent to NSA monitor whether they step out of bounds or not”.

More detailed:

1. The other agency will monitor the NSA in regards to privacy and personal integrity up until 2011 when the law apparently will be reviewed. Note that the people responsible for this monitoring are nominated by the same parliament that voted yes to this abomination.
2. Likewise, a committee will do the same. I guess as some sort of checks and balances safety measures. The members of the committee will also be members of parliament.
3. A integrity ombudsman will appointed within the NSA.

This is a bit simplified but (mostly because while a native Swedish speaker, I am not fluent in legalese in any language) but that’s the gist of it and not even close to be good enough – as if such a law ever could be good. My main beef with the safeguards though is that it is only government officials within those safeguards and not people from other walks of life as well – people who will be affected by this law when it goes into effect January 1.

Oh, and the politicians are woefully ignorant of how the Internet works. I mailed all of those that voted yes to voice my concerns (and mailed quite a few in advance as well). Only two has bothered to answer but they were both under the delusion that e-mail (for example) obeys the same rules as snail mail: that is, if it’s mailed from within Sweden and the destination is within Sweden the mail will never be outside of the Swedish borders at any time. Which, of course, is as false as it can be.

Anonymous Coward says:

Dangerous times

We live in dangerous times, in 2001 terrorists attacked the twin towers, Swedens spying law did not pass then, it was rejected.

Then in 2002 Bush invaded Iraq, but Sweden’s spying law was still rejected, it was still unnecessary.

And in 2005 as the war in Iraq flared worse, it was still rejected.

Finally in 2006 Sweden began ordering the equipment, including a massive data mining computer which was delivered in 2007 and in 2008 a lot of politicians voted to legalize it.

I for one think the FRA began spying on the politicians and got leverage over them. I don’t believe there is a new threat since 2005, I don’t believe the Swedish people want this.

DH says:

Re: It's a law for idiots

Sounds like you don’t know very much about Sweden. Apparently there has been a public outcry against this very legislation of late. Shows that the Swede’s are at least INFORMED enough to form an opinion unlike us here in the States. Besides, with a 99% literacy rate, equal healthcare from King Karl Gustav XVI to the average guy on the street, 1 year maternal leave (for both parents, PAID), plus a minimum of 5 weeks vacation, ranking 31st in suicide rates globally (no more than the US) Sweden can’t really be that backwards now can it?

Joe ‘Murrican

Nick says:

While I appreciate the point that “He who would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will lose both and deserve neither.” (Benjamin Franklin) he was lucky enough not to live in the modern age where the power of communication means global terrorism is far more of a threat.

Regardless of whether you believe governments and security agencies or sit in the liberal anti neo conservative “the government is trying to scare us into giving up our liberty” camp, it is hard to deny that there is a need for governments and security agencies to gain rapid access to an individuals communications should the evidence exist to do so.

Whilst this law may be open to abuse and may not be the answer, an answer does need to be formulated and quickly. The problem being safeguarding the rights of the law abiding individual whilst allowing you access to those who are not law abiding and are seeking to harm us. T

The key then is perhaps evidence and who evaluates that evidence.

It seems that the same people that complain about the erosion of liberty are the same people who complain that the security agencies do not do enough to protect us when an event occurs. They want the protection but expect those who provide it to do so with one hand tied behind their backs while hopping (metaphorically speaking).

It cannot be both ways and a balance has to be found between individual liberty and bringing those to account who seek to harm before they do so. This law may not be the answer but it does not mean there is not the requirement for something that allows for similar powers in a responsible manner.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Nick thanks for showing your ignorance! Guess what? Laws already existed in Sweden (and do exist in most countries) where you can tap all forms of communication on an individual so long as you have a warrant.

Problem here? Oh, apparently the whole needing ‘sufficent evidence’ bit is too much to ask so they’re just going to be tapping all forms of communication ALL THE TIME.

This is not about anti-terrorism. This is about population control.

Vincent Clement says:

Re: Re:

The problem being safeguarding the rights of the law abiding individual whilst allowing you access to those who are not law abiding and are seeking to harm us

I guess you have never heard of a warrant? The government has to have sufficient evidence to convince a judge to issue a warrant. That is the safeguard.

The legislation in Sweden does not require any evidence or any warrants. Any cross-border communication can be monitored. There are no safeguards.

It cannot be both ways

Yes it can and yes, it should be. Franklin is dead on. What is the point of having freedoms, rights and liberty, if the government can willy nilly ignore them in the name of security?

Tor says:

There were massive protests. Within a week since its launch a protest internet site got several hundred thousand unique visitors. In front of the house of parliament hundreds, if not more than thousand people protested on the day of the voting. Bloggers wrote thousands of posts within just a few days and forced newspapers who thought it was too late anyway to bring up the issue.

The social democrats – the major party in opposition – were in favor of the monitoring all electronic communication like this, but voted no because of what seems like PR reasons and to critize the fact that they hadn’t been involved in the process of writing the law. Hence, it is not likely that they will stop the wiretapping if they gain power.

A bit surprisingly perhaps members in the Left Party (historically created as a communistic fraction of the much larger Social Democratic Party) were the most eloquent defenders of human rights and privacy during the debates in the parliament.

Within the right-wing block in power only one MP had the will and guts to vote against the bill. Since many libertarian (“liberal” in Swedish – these words are a bit confusing) people might now feel that they have no good candidate in the next election, so this may create political repercussions.

It’s not unlikely that the Pirate Party – with privacy as one of the main items on their agenda – will gain many new supporters due to the dissatisfaction with the current parties.

Tor says:

Nick wrote: It seems that the same people that complain about the erosion of liberty are the same people who complain that the security agencies do not do enough to protect us when an event occurs.

I don’t think that’s necessarily true – from my perspective the connection even strikes me as quite odd. And it’s important to note that no event has occured here in Sweden the 30-40 years, and the former chief of the secret police recently said that there is no terrorist threat against Sweden that currently cannot be handled. All kinds of nonsense arguments have been presented, like for example that wiretapping in Sweden would protect our soldiers in Afghanistan, and it would protect us against IT-attacks and unknown terrorist attacks (data mining for such things have not been very succesful so far).

Many people who have argued for the wiretapping bill haven’t in any way tried to ask themselves if it would even be effective, although both effectiveness and proportionality are two key things that need to be analysed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Tap Dance

Tap Dance

Tom Clancy. Which book I forgot.

Tap Dance is a method of sending secret communications by sending in the open a message and lets use one of Clancy’s examples a cooking recipe in the open and clear and then sending a second message in the open and clear from a second computer source a second message that contains the code keys. Detection is almost impossible and if detected the response is that what was sent and received was a cooking recipe.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Tap Dance

you’re talking about steganography:

it’s a supplement to cryptography.

cryptography secures the content of a message.

steganography hides the existence of the message.

basically you use a key to hide a message in a digital file like a song or picture. you encrypt your message using public and private keys. then you stash the message in a digital file or whatever using another key. you then upload the “message” to the net somewhere, or email it, or whatever. the “enemy” can intercept all of your messages and unless they have they are aware that you are using stego AND have your keys, they won’t even see your encrypted message, let alone decrypt it.

domestic surveillance won’t stop the actual terrorists because they will use steganography and crypto to guarantee that no one intercepts their communications. all it does is hassle innocent people.

i guess you can watch for crypto and investigate the people that use it, but what do you do if regular people start using it? ban crypto?

banning crypto will make security for online commerce and remote access impossible (no ssl, no ssh, no vpn, no wep/wpa, no blackberry).

what will companies do about HIPPA regulations that state that patient information needs to be encrypted?

John says:

Don't be a Fool

To those who think this law will do ANYTHING to curb terrorism… you are a short-sighted fool.

While terrorists may be fanatical zealots, they have some extremely intelligent and devious minds guiding them, who apparently aren’t afraid to use technology.

Already drug dealers here in the states use elaborate codes and disposable cell phones to get around police taps… and if they can do it… you know the terrorists can do it better.

Benjamin Franklin was right. There isn’t a “security” bill yet in the US that hasn’t been abused. And 99% of the time, the abusers get nothing more than the tiniest slap on the wrist.

Give any government an inch… and they’ll take a mile. Sad… but true.

sisterofDot says:


This is an immigration issue – obviously the same problem that western civilization is having. They have no intention of integration.

Close the borders… and do not allow in people who believe that Sharia law is an acceptable form of existance.

If we don’t do this, the west will simply become the east because they are breeding faster than us.

Huh? says:

Re: Re: Freedom

Right they didn’t close the border and look what happened to them. But seriously, this Sharia law thing brings up a good point about democracy. People in the U.S. tend to speak of democracy as if it equals freedom, it doesn’t. It only guarnatees that 49% of the people are forced to submit to the will of 51% of the people. Remember, all rights are individual not collective and every individual should be empowered to defend those rights.

Khalid Natto says:

If You Want to Fight Back

1. The real fear is in the CREDIBILITY of the recordings.
Everybody should be recording themselves and then using AUDIO MINING technology have there own records.
Dont let the govt record be the only record. Its too easy to cut and paste. Take a look at



Xiera says:


I thought the communication networks of Sweden (including telephone and Internet) were socialised. If this were the case, doesn’t the government have every right to monitor its own networks? Private companies and organisations do so here in the United States, so why should the Swedish government have any different standing?

Of course, if I am wrong and Sweden’s communications networks are not socialised, then this is all moot.

Abdul says:

The Worst is yet to come:

Congress just reach a deal today to extend wiretapping and offer Telcos what they call ‘limited’ immunity. The signs are really not good.It seems the terroristare now driving us to abadon the principles which has make the Western democracies so flourishing. It’s time for privacy advocates to rise up and be counted or else: Warrantless Surveillance: The Worst Is Yet To Come ( http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=494&doc_id=143396&F_src=flftwo)

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...