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Sweden On Verge of Passing Sweeping Wiretap Plan 234

An anonymous reader writes "No one seems to have noticed that Sweden is close to passing a far-reaching wiretapping program that would greatly expand the government's spying capabilities by permitting it to monitor all email and telephone traffic coming in and out of the country. If a bill before parliament becomes law, the country's National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) will monitor all internet traffic that passes in or out of the country. As the article notes, there's a good chance email traveling from, say, the UK to Finland would be fair game, since it's likely to traverse through Sweden before reaching its final destination. So far, there's been nary a peep from Swedish media about the plan."
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Sweden On Verge of Passing Sweeping Wiretap Plan

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  • by kaarlov ( 259057 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:04AM (#23665015)
    Finnish telco Sonera, which is nowadays part of Swedish TeliaSonera moved recently their email servers back to Finland from Sweden because of this.
    Apparently their customers were concerned enough.
    • by jhol13 ( 1087781 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @06:20AM (#23665707)
      Actually Finnish law required that.

      According to Finnish law e-mail has very high level of privacy protection.

      So in order not to break Finnish law they were practically forced to move the servers to Finland as they could not guarantee e-mail privacy otherwise.
  • by j1976 ( 618621 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:07AM (#23665033)
    There has actually been quite a lot of fuss around this law. For example, a seldomly used law paragraph enabled the social democratic minority to delay this proposal for a year, something which gained quite some attention when it happened. If that had not been done, the law would have passed a year ago. An update to what was happening during this period is available at http://www.idg.se/2.1085/1.156736 [www.idg.se] (swedish only). IDG is the largest swedish news agency for technology-related news. At the national swedish radio homepage http://www.sr.se/cgi-bin/ekot/artikel.asp?Artikel=1242136 [www.sr.se] you can read about finlands protests against the law. They also published news about the growing criticism of the law at http://www.sr.se/Ekot/artikel.asp?artikel=1240436 [www.sr.se] (both links in swedish).
  • by miffo.swe ( 547642 ) <daniel.hedblom@NOSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:08AM (#23665045) Homepage Journal
    This has more to do with being able to help forieign surveilance than any domestic spying. When an ally calls for help sweden will use this to be able to bend over properly and hand over any domestic information about the targets living in sweden. Swedish domestic security has never been self-sustained but rather a help organization for ally interests like the US.
    • WTF?! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05, 2008 @06:05AM (#23665649)
      This is SWEDEN! Since when has IT been a hotbed for terrorists or drug dealers? Middle-eastern terrorists moving to the cold sub-arctic climate of Scandinavia? Drug lords from the Columbian jungles? Not bloody likely.

      It can't be militarily inspired either; Sweden is "non aligned" and has (officially) maintained a neutral stance in all wars for (nearly) the last 200 years, and they are not a party to NATO or a similar organization/treaty. Sweden has, in fact, the longest tenure of neutrality of any country in the world (yes, that includes Switzerland).

      So, they're going to wage war against, and gather enormous amounts of intelligence on, its own citizens, instead? Are they going to raise the already highest tax rates in the world to pay for this needless Britain-esque surveillance?

      This has nothing to do with terrorists or drugs, and everything to do with copyright "enforcement" and having more "legal" ways to gather data on Pirate Bay, their users, and other services that may set up shop there. There's no other plausible explanation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        This is SWEDEN! Since when has IT been a hotbed for terrorists or drug dealers?

        File it under "delusions of grandeur". Our politicos like to think that Sweden is important enough to be considered a terrorist target.

        Sweden is "non aligned" and has (officially) maintained a neutral stance

        "Officially", yes. Practically, not so much. We (the government, that is) bend over for the guy with the biggest guns, and have done so since World War One.

  • ECHELON? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Indyan ( 754792 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:10AM (#23665055) Homepage
    I found this report from the EU parliament very interesting: http://www.fas.org/irp/program/process/rapport_echelon_en.pdf [fas.org] At page 27 there is a list of all countries intercepting private communications, and basically everyone does it? I think some former FRA employee basically admitted they have done this sort of thing for a long time already too. I'm by no means saying this is ok, but it's kinda interesting how Google reacted on this for example. They said they can't put their servers in Sweden, but US/UK etc is fine? What is the differance?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by servognome ( 738846 )

      They said they can't put their servers in Sweden, but US/UK etc is fine? What is the differance?
      Perhaps the difference is who they primarily serve? If most requests come from the US or UK, then placing servers within the country reduces Googles exposure to surveillance because the transmissions are domestic not international.
    • by init100 ( 915886 )

      I think some former FRA employee basically admitted they have done this sort of thing for a long time already too.

      They did, noting that the new law would make their already active wiretapping legal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by steelneck ( 683359 )
      The difference is that the FRA have not been spying in wire before. That is illegal, today the telcos are not allowed to give out any traffic or personal data without a specific court order, some of the data they are not even allowed to save. This bill, and the EU-dataretention bill is about to change all of that. The FRA (roughly The Defence Radio Agency) have been listening only to radio, satellites and such. But in the recent debate we have come to learn that even that practise is illegal according to s
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by redelm ( 54142 )
      ECHELON was funamentally justified somewhat differently -- the UK would spy on US territory, and the US would spy on UK territory. This is nominally legal under the guise of national intelligence efforts against a potential/past enemy. Then they would share information under the guise of international law enforcement. What is clearly illegal (verging on treason) is the willful failure of counterintelligence -- the US & the UK have a duty to protect their citizens against foreign spying of all kinds.
  • Sweden? wtf? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Master Control P ( 655590 ) <ejkeever@neDEBIA ... com minus distro> on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:11AM (#23665069)
    *reads article*

    Oh, just another out-of-control power grab, no doubt MAFIAA approved, with a healthy side-dose of "fuck you" to privacy.
  • by Henriok ( 6762 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:19AM (#23665123)
    First: As one living in Sweden I don't recognize this description. For one, there is quite a stir in IT related, and mainstream media about this. And this have been going on for several years. The current government suggested this while in opposition a couple of years ago, and it was one of the first new legislations that they announced when they got into power 2006. It's been under debateand scrutiny in media and several governmental instances since then.

    Secondly: FRA is _not_ a military organization. It's a civil autority that can be used for several other governmental organizations such as the police, secret police, military or even state owned corporations. But the name is confusing, I grant you that.

    One interessting thing is that FRA operates the fifth fastest computer on the Top500 list. Most people believe that is was purchased to meet the need of this new surveillance demand.

    It's hardly unknown to the public, even if most are not interessted in such matters. Swedes are pretty used to governmental control and oversight, and we acually enjoy the benefits of it. Our trust in authoroty of this kind is strong since it have served us well in the past.
    • by init100 ( 915886 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:48AM (#23665283)

      Swedes are pretty used to governmental control and oversight, and we acually enjoy the benefits of it.

      Such as?

      Our trust in authoroty of this kind is strong since it have served us well in the past.

      You mean your trust. I, for one, do not trust them anymore than any other government. And in what instance did it serve us well in the past?

      • by Henriok ( 6762 )
        Such as a personal ID number. It's hard to find swedes that doesn't belive that it's a good thing. A national medical journal database is wanted, and having this connected to the database with prescriptions. Automated tax declatations are quite enjoyed too. There are more things that most Sweds enjoy: automated enrollment into schools, child benefits, state funded mandatory vaccinations and dental care.

        I certainly doesn't speak for ALL Swedes but for the sake of argument, I'm speaking for most. I'm quite su
        • by aliquis ( 678370 )
          Personally I'd want them to just create one big administrative authority instead of current:
          * CSN (student loans and money)
          * FÃrsÃkringskassan (if you are sick, or your children are, or handicapped, or for whatever else reason can't work)
          * ArbetsfÃrmedlingen (employment office)
          * Socialomsorgen (social security / welfare)
          * Skatteverket (tax administration)

          Or atleast let them share their journals/databases with each other, which they aren't allowed now unless you give them permission to. This j
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by richie2000 ( 159732 )

        And in what instance did it serve us well in the past?
        He is probably referring to the incident in Ã...dalen 1931, when the heroic forces of truth managed to stop a full-scale terrorist attack on healthy Swedish family values.
    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:53AM (#23665307) Journal
      Bah, as long as strong cryptography is still authorized...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by richie2000 ( 159732 )

      For one, there is quite a stir in IT related, and mainstream media about this.

      Really? If so, you should have no problem pointing to at least one article in mainstream media in recent months.

      The current government suggested this while in opposition a couple of years ago

      No, they did not. This comes from the MoD via the MoJ under Thomas BodstrÃm, but his lawyers screamed bloody murder so they canned it until it was revived by Odenberg under suspicious circumstances. Read more about it here: http://rickfalkvinge.se/2008/05/30/fra-forslaget-en-tidslinje/ [rickfalkvinge.se]

      • by aliquis ( 678370 )
        Well, much media have covered that FRA got a new machine atleast, and I would guess that TPB, Piratpartiet, IDG, various forums such as Sweclockers, Flashback and such have discussed what it may lead to / why it may have been bought.
    • by bumby ( 589283 )

      Swedes are pretty used to governmental control and oversight, and we acually enjoy the benefits of it. Our trust in authoroty of this kind is strong since it have served us well in the past.
      I do not concur, and I know many who agree with me (disagrees with you). I don't trust my government more then I trust a stranger on the street. And I certainly do not enjoy my privacy being stepped on like a rug.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by nx ( 194271 )
      Swedes are pretty used to governmental control and oversight, and we acually enjoy the benefits of it. Our trust in authoroty of this kind is strong since it have served us well in the past.

      This is partly correct and partly bullshit. Swedes usually do have a positive view on turning authority over to the state, that part seems to be true. The reasons for why this is true are very much debatable. Some, like historian Peter Englund, point to the fact that the King often stood with the peasantry against the no
  • It's already up (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Today FRA has the lawful right and ability to monitor all communication that is broadcast using radio/wave-transmission, since much(most?) traffic at some point goes via satellite and/or radio link they already listen in.

    The new bill gives them the right to tap into the cables directly, but it also leaves a possibility for them to share their information with other government bodies, and that is the real kicker. So if you write in an e-mail that you drove home drunk yesterday, that could be used against you
  • is this attitude on slashdot: shocked, shocked i tell you, that a governmental organization is not going to protect my information for me

    encrypt if you don't want it snooped on. if it goes out on the wire, it is prone to being intercepted and snooped on, by the government or someone else. you realize that, right? so where is all the shock and amazement coming from that a government is doing what governments always do?

    i'm not saying you don't have a right to privacy. i'm saying you are absurd if you rely on a government organization to protect your privacy for you. regardless of the law. YOU need to protect your privacy. you can't expect the government to do that competently, regardless of the law. and then, in a forum populated with a bunch of people supposedly experienced enough with the subject matter, to come from this position of complete naivete on the subject?

    all i am saying is that its just kind of disingenuous for a lot of you, who to start from the default position of healthy distrust of government... to suddenly express shock and amazement at a government trying to snoop on you. this is a new concept to you? you're not jaded and cynical at this point, as you SHOULD be on the subject matter of governments and snooping if you have any awareness of the subject matter? folks: your shock and amazement is only possible if massive trust in government is your default position. you see the absurdity in that, right?

    "omg! my government wants to spy on me? the idea never occured to me!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by steelneck ( 683359 )
      So you are not visiting other sites than encrypted ones? People seem to forget that aspect, what sites you are visiting is often more sensitive than what info you transmit. Think of those times you are searching the net for something, drowning in irrelevant hits, visiting sites just to discover it did not contain what you where looking for. The state cannot see what you thought of the page you just where visiting, the only see that you requested and got it sent to you. So, do not visit wrong pages in the f
      • where you will go searching for information about xyz, and no one out there will have any record of your search?

        i'm not talking about government policy here, i'm talking about basic understanding of the technology: don't you think it is rather absurd of you to expect anonymity from a system that is fundamentally nothing but open packets traversing random nodes?

        once you accept the notion of the complete lack of anonymity on the internet, why do you expect government policy to suddenly come in, and not only v
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by steelneck ( 683359 )
          It is not absurd when looked upon from a power perspective. Yes google can see any searches i do, but they wont see what i do at yahoo, so can site owners and most important, neither google, yahoo or any site owner has any way near the power to hurt me as my govenment has. Is is about the trust of the messenger, the same goes for the old postal service, snail-mail. This trust comes from the law. Today it is illegal to eavesdrop on private communication, this is what ISPs earn their trust from. The trusted p
          • the question is, why do you think that such a villainous government would wait for a stupid law to sift the internet? either the government acts virtuously, or it doesn't. currently, your operating assumption about how the government acts has contradictory characteristics: on one hand, you expect a law to be passed, and then suddenly every governmental official will behave unerringly to the letter of that law. on the other hand, you expect the government to go out and rape your rights in secret no matter wh
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by steelneck ( 683359 )
              Why they would wait? Because they cannot do it today. The state simply do not have the access today, the infrastructure required is not built. What the bill proposes is that the owners of all bordering nodes should install special hardware and cables to the FRA, but not paid by the FRA. This copying would also be illegal today. So, none of the telcos have this infrastructure today, because it would both make no sense and be illegal.
              • you believe that?


                "This copying would also be illegal today"

                there's that same fallacy: we need a law to protect us from people who don't obey the law ;-P

                follow your opinion of the government all the way through: you say it is going to rape your rights, a heinous thing to do. ok, so, we will simply pass a law, and **poof** magically, heinous people will suddenly be virtuous

                i'm not saying the government is heinous. i'm not saying the government is virtuous. i'm saying you need to make up your mind. be
    • by mmcuh ( 1088773 )

      The government is supposed to work for us. We have every right to be outraged when they instead turn against us.

      That doesn't mean that we're surprised.

    • by rar ( 110454 )

      encrypt if you don't want it snooped on.

      I don't want my private communication snooped on. So, does anyone have experience with what is the easiest and least intrusive way to push email encryption on less technical friends and family? I would prefer something I can install/activate for them which automatically encrypt/decrypt emails to/from me, while still allows them to communicate as usual with others. Preferably an open-standard multi-platform / multi-program solution.

      If things really are not this easy, maybe it is time to work hard on develop

      • by xaxa ( 988988 )
        The Enigmail plugin for Thunderbird. It's a wrapper for GPG.

        Normally, you have to type in a passphrase to unlock the private key, but I suppose if you're only worried about the security through the wires you needn't use a passphrase.
  • by asackett ( 161377 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:58AM (#23665327) Homepage
    I know it's a pipe dream, but if enough of us would encrypt everything we can that crosses the internet we could vote with our resource consumption and force the bastards to be selective about what they decrypt. Our individual privacy would thus be somewhat assured by the signal to noise ratio.
  • by CrystalFalcon ( 233559 ) * on Thursday June 05, 2008 @05:08AM (#23665379) Homepage
    Read more about this from the Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge:

    More on the Ubiquitous Wiretapping Bill [rickfalkvinge.se]

    Swedish NSA to monitor all phones, Internet [rickfalkvinge.se]

    Excerpt from first link:

    The bill's name is en anpassad försvarsunderrättelseverksamhet [regeringen.se], translating roughly to a better adapted military intelligence gathering. Key points of the bill:
    • At about 20 points in the national information infrastructure network, all traffic is spliced off and fed into the Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA) agency. These points are placed as to catch all traffic entering and leaving the Swedish borders, but will catch much - if not most - domestic traffic too, for technical routing reasons. Electronic traffic, in particular, always takes the scenic route.
    • This affects all Internet traffic and all telephony traffic, meaning web surfing, e-mail, phone, and fax are affected, to mention but a few.
    • The FRA will scan all traffic in real time according to about 250,000 search criteria. The traffic that matches will be automatically saved for manual intelligence analysis. This obviously takes a lot of computing power. We don't know the exact extent of FRA's computing power, but we do know that they have the world's fifth most powerful computer [top500.org], in competition mostly with nuclear physics labs.
    • "Customers" that will be able to place requests for searches include all authorities (all some 500 of them including Department of Transportation, Department of Agriculture, etc., but notably the police, secret service and customs).
    • The political administration may order (not request, but order) a political wiretapping to catch communications they are interested in.
    • Major businesses will also get access to the wiretapping grid, but will have to go through an authority.
    • The bill specifically allows for singling out Swedish people for specific wiretapping, although only under certain qualifiers.
    • The mandate for the agency's own intelligence gathering is broadened from "external military threats" to "external threats", which are exemplified as international crime; trafficking in drugs, weapons, or people; migration movements; religious or cultural conflicts; environmental imbalances and threats; raw materials shortages; and currency speculation. More examples are listed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
      More telling are his quotes of comments from Sweden's own law enforcement:
      Responses to the bill

      How did the bureaucrats respond? In unusually plain language, actually.

      The Department of Justice, among other similar comments, simply called the bill "completely alien to our form of government".

      The Police Board said that the bill "indicates a frightening lack of understanding for the requirements regarding the protection of citizens' privacy that follow from our Constitution and the European Conventi
  • For email there is a simple solution.
    For everything else ... we need to work it out!
  • Demand encryption from vendors. Encourage others to do so.
  • Tit for tat? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Thursday June 05, 2008 @06:33AM (#23665757)

    The United States has already said that pretty much any private communication it can get hold of is fair game. Does anybody have the feeling that a lot of other countries are responding by taking the view that, "If you read my mail, I"m sure as hell going to read yours."

    • That sound so retaliatory, wouldn't suprise me if it went mroe like:
      "What a brilliant idea, why didn't we start doing that sooner"
    • by hacker ( 14635 )

      "If you read my mail, I"m sure as hell going to read yours."

      Herein lies the problem. We CAN'T read THEIR mail!.

      There is no oversight. We can't watch the watchers.

      We are living in an unbalanced surveillance society, where the core system of checks and balances has been thrown out the window.

  • So the number of countries who read your email depends on the number of countries the servers are in that it passes through. At least with snail mail, you'd _see_ the greasy fingerprints and cum stains on the envelope.
  • That the Nordic socialist happy hippy countries were the liberal slacker's friend. How can this be?
  • by nickos ( 91443 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @08:11AM (#23666265)
    Sadly we can probably expect to see more countries in Europe pass these kind of laws as they realise the risks posed by their large Muslim populations. Sweden has a tradition of naively importing huge amounts of Muslims and then paying them very generous unemployment benefits (since they are usually ill equipped to work in a modern economy), and the effects are starting to be felt. Read more here [weeklystandard.com].

    That said, European governments are just treating the symptoms of the problem rather than the root cause: religious extremism (and some would argue religion generally). The sooner we realise that, the better.
  • Back when the Soviet Union was tyrannizing everyone in it like this wiretapping, the "free" nations including Sweden, the UK and the US would never want anyone to think that we were doing it too. The example of the Soviets' evil was something of a deterrent to our own governments' being evil.

    Our governments still did evil. But the threat of being exposed as "as bad as the Soviets" tended to minimize it. Without the Soviet counterexample, our governments are going as wild on us as the Soviets were.

    And since

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears