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Wiretapping Law Sparks Rage In Sweden 344

Posted by kdawson
from the taking-it-to-the-streets dept.
castrox writes "This Wednesday at 9am the Swedish Parliament is voting on a new wiretapping law which would enable the civil agency (FRA — Defense Radio Agency) to snoop on all traffic crossing the Swedish border. E-mail, fax, telephone, web, SMS, etc. 24/7 without any requirement to obtain a court order. Furthermore, by law, the sitting Government will be able to instruct the wiretapping agency on what to look for. It also nullifies anonymity for press tipsters and whistleblowers. Many agencies within Sweden have weighed in on this, with very hefty criticism, e.g. SÄPO (akin to FBI in the US), the Justice Department, ex-employees of FRA, and more. Nonetheless, the ruling party block is supposedly pressuring its members to vote 'yes' to this new proposed law with threats to unseat any dissidents. After massive activity on blogs by ordinary citizens, and street protests, the story has finally been picked up by major Swedish news sources. The result will likely be huge street protests on Wednesday. People have been completely surprised since this law has not gotten any media uptake until very late in the game."
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Wiretapping Law Sparks Rage In Sweden

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  • by BWJones (18351) * on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @01:19AM (#23819107) Homepage Journal
    Jeez... if only Americans would have done the same thing in response to this guys [utah.edu] efforts in his administration to do the same thing.

    Seriously, where has the outrage been in the US? Did not George Orwell warn us? The number of Constitutional rights we've lost under the current administration is truly stunning and if we do not stand up and resist, this sort of thing will continue to spread throughout the world as it has in the UK, Japan, the US and many other European countries.

    • Obvious answer - too many Americans believe that the government knows best.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sumdumass (711423)
        Actually, it is more like not enough people think the government is evil.

        And with a few exceptions, they aren't. Thats why almost everyone railing against the government seems to come off as or is viewed by the public as a kook or some sort of nutbag.
        • by ppanon (16583) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:59AM (#23820391) Homepage Journal

          Actually, it is more like not enough people think the government is evil.
          It doesn't have to be. "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions"
        • Thats why almost everyone railing against the government seems to come off as or is viewed by the public as a kook or some sort of nutbag.
          True enough. People who just say the government is evil do an extreme disservice by using such hyperbolic rhetorics.

          I myself use an approach that doesn't sound so "cool" as a shouting slogan is, but which people accept much more easily: I actually explain what the issue with government is. I tell them basically this: that any group, by being a collective of individuals, has a collective "moral level" that is at best the average of the "moral level" of each individual that's part of it. Thus, government being a collective group composed of all the people in government, you just have to ask yourself what's the typical politician's morals. If you can answer that, you can answer what's the average moral level of government itself. Compare that to the average moral level of the population as a whole, and it becomes pretty clear that government is almost by definition "just worse".

          By switching from a "good vs. evil" discourse to one of relative scales where neither "us" nor "them" are at either extreme, but we both are in the middle, "they" just a little below than "us", those with whom I talk recognize that yes, we actually must watch government carefully so that they don't drop "too much".

          Longer, but truer. And by being truer, it just works.
      • Nope (Score:3, Insightful)

        by phorm (591458)
        Plenty of Americans believe the government is full of BS. They just also believe that "somebody else" will take care of the issue for them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by linhux (104645)
        It is interesting to note that the Swedish people has had a long history of trusting the government and governmental bureaucracy, with some historian speculating that the trust has its roots in the kings of the old times actually generally supporting the majority of the population, since they'd otherwise be overthrown. Even in ancient medieval times kings were elected ("Mora stenar") and could be overthrown by the people if they were too unpopular. This is one thing that makes this story spectacular. It mig
    • by Cathoderoytube (1088737) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @01:27AM (#23819151)
      I'm getting sick and tired of people constantly referencing George Orwell whenever some government institutes a wire tapping law. There wasn't any bloody wire tapping in Animal Farm!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by poetmatt (793785)
        Obviously you've never had soylent greens, nor have you read 1984. Good job, move on, enjoy your perceived to be excellent life. The rest of us will keep fighting for what barely remains of most rights.
    • The problem is that a lot of this nonsense was supported on both sides to some extent, the patriot act for example was voted for by both sides with only a few [you can count them on one hand] voting against it. Which is an important point to be made, it isn't just the administration alone that has condoned this, after all these could not have been passed without democrat support to some extent especially now with the democrat majority. it's a severe problem with our government that extends far beyond bush
      • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @01:32AM (#23819183) Journal
        If you tap peoples' phones for good reasons, pretty soon you'll be tapping them for bad ones.
        • I know, that's generally why I am opposed to the Patriot act well acts really, the second draft was altered after all- and a host of other blatently unconstitutional bills that were passed anyway, it's just rather disturbing to see the collusion that was required for all of this to be passed in the first place.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Tablizer (95088)
          If you tap peoples' phones for good reasons, pretty soon you'll be tapping them for bad ones.

          What do you mean by "soon"? J. Edgar Hoover (FBI) and Nixon are known to have abused domestic spying capabilities for political and dogmatic reasons. John Lennon was spied on, for example, merely for political statements not too different from the lyrics of songs like "Imagine".
                             
        • by forkazoo (138186)
          "To find out if she has a boyfriend" is one of the good reasons to tap her phone, right?
      • congressmen no longer read bills.

        Further, since 1998 the media has had an agenda, and has become a close bed fellow with legislators.

        they trade favors, and have obviously developed a strict code of conduct to cover for one another's acts.

        I see no reason why the current media wouldn't help the republican administration by threatening blitzes against those who refused to vote for the act.

        Frankly, this won't stop until every media company is broken into 8 or more smaller companies, and all current officers are
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          "Further, since 1898 the media has had an agenda, and has become a close bed fellow with legislators."

          There, fixed that for you.

          "You supply the story -- I'll supply the war!"

    • by Aeternitas827 (1256210) * on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @01:34AM (#23819205)
      The US has long been resigned to give up freedoms gradually to 'ensure their security', but the end result is nowhere near worth the cost. Free thought has slowly been taken from us as a direct result of our willingness to sacrifice for no apparent reason; the current administration has really done nothing to be forthcoming with what is really going on, and we're on the way to being screwed as a result.

      And this bit of legislation, whether we here in the States realise it or not, has much broader implications than just the privacy of Swedes being impeded; as I understand the article, any communications that hit Sweden are subject to monitoring; and as the article doesn't cite whether or not this requires the Originator or Terminator of a given communication be physically present in Sweden, this could include US-based items that pass through a network element of some sort that IS Swedish. And there's nothing to say that there won't be information sharing with governments of other countries, including ours, to implicate our citizens of crimes (where there are none being planned, let alone committed) on the basis of nothing but the content of a phone call or email that happened to cross through or end in Sweden. And it is foreseeable that the United States, in order to circumvent what discord there is domestically, may use that fact to continue the abuses that are already occurring, and in a way that may not be open to much challenge. All in all, this shouldn't be an outrage just for Swedes, but for anyone who would prefer that not everything they do be subject to some form of monitoring that is declared legal by some manner of court in the world.
      • 2 facts (Score:5, Informative)

        by castrox (630511) <stefan@@@verzel...se> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @01:57AM (#23819357)
        Here are two facts: 1) Google already said they will not place any servers in Sweden, in case the law goes through. 2) Sweden's prime minister in conjunction with the defense minister fairly recently (no exact estimate) signed a treaty with the United States of America with the express purpose of sharing information obtained with wiretapping. Sweden's and the U.S. systems will be "integrated" and experience shared.

        Ergo: big business have already identified this threat and we've already established a nice contract with the U.S. Telia, the largest ISP in Sweden, moved mail servers to Finland because their Finnish customers were getting worried.
    • The New World Order as mentioned by Bush Sr. in a speech
      to the whole world.

      Old news, and most ppl are too busy watching sports, TV,
      racing, or some other distraction to pay it any mind.

      We warned, but most ppl said they were conspiracy nuts.

      The NAFTA super highway made them think otherwise.

      The good part is yet to come when we all get RFID tags.

      Will start out on the outside of the body, and end up on the inside.

      It will happen slowly, because if you stick the frog in warm water
      and slow raise the temperature it
    • Seriously, where has the outrage been in the US?

      hey, we're pretty annoyed. and we're about to do som-

      **OMG, did you hear - newegg has a gigabit switch on sale for $9!! kewl! **

      uhh, what were you saying, again? oh yeah, we're really pissed off about this freedom stuff. we really are.

    • Yes, that's right. In response to an article about a proposed law in Sweden, the FP waited until the fourth word of his post (not including post title) to mention America. The fourth fucking word. Does he get modded offtopic? Noooo ... his post is +5 interesting, and somewhere around 100+ comments so far have replied. Including this one.

      Look, I get it, there's a lot of people here who hate Bush, blah, blah, blah. I'm not debating whether Bush is evil, or has eroded Constitutional rights, or hates cu
  • These politicians have amazing gaul and talent for understatement.

    100,000 hits a day since june 6th on the main blog covering the opposition, and this is the quote from one of the politicians.

    Despite the worries expressed by those who have written to him, Widman, who also sits on the Riksdagâ(TM)s Committee on Defence, said it was âoevery unlikelyâ that he would change his position.

    âoeI am going to vote yes,â he said.
  • Finland (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Word on the street is that laws to do kind of the same thing are being run through the Finnish government, without much visibility or discussion, backed and sponsored by various multinational corporations.
  • Bit confused (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Caine (784) * on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @01:59AM (#23819369)
    I'm a bit confused where all this "never mentioned by the major media previously" is coming from. There's been several articles, editorials and other mentions in the newspaper since the law was introduced. It just seems that people didn't really care enough to notice until now.
  • Protest site (Score:5, Informative)

    by LarsWestergren (9033) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @02:07AM (#23819403) Homepage Journal
    One main protest site here [stoppafralagen.nu], there is also a Google translation here [google.com]. Oddly, the Google translation has problems with common words such as "integritetsintrång", "utredningsbegäran" and "åsiktsregistrering". :P
    • How is parent informative?

      Tell us what those words mean!
      • Re:Protest site (Score:5, Informative)

        by LarsWestergren (9033) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @02:44AM (#23819617) Homepage Journal
        >Tell us what those words mean!

        integritetsintrång = invasion of integrity
        utredningsbegäran = request for official enquiry
        åsiktsregistrering = (political) view tracking

        Ask for the "integritetsintrång" pen holder at your local IKEA!

        Jokes aside, I find it interesting that it is the conservative and liberal parties who push for this law (though they are the ones who around elections claim they campaign for freedom and individuality).
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @02:08AM (#23819405)
    Anti-freedom laws are springing up left and right, and invariably they're pushed through in some cloak-and-dagger midnight sessions, often either completing the bare minimum of readings or even trying to get away with simply ignoring the necessary process. Pressure is being used to browbeat MPs of the ruling parties into submission (where necessary) while every trick in the book is being used to avoid informing the opposition (and population) earlier than absolutely necessary.

    Makes you think. I mean, those people are supposedly being voted into office by the majority, supposedly working for their interests. Why the hush-hush-rush-rush? If you're doing what your voters wanted, why bother trying not to inform the press? After all, what you do must be in the interest of the majority, so why care about the outcry of some naysayers and professional paranoiacs?

    You're doing what your voters want, right? Right?
    • The media has had an agenda since the mid 90's. They bias their reporting and deliberately ignore many issues if coverage will jeopardize their interests.
      • Then it's even more interesting that there is little to no coverage about those topics. I mean, you don't even have to omit certain aspects or blow it out of proportion to make it into a horrible nightmare scenario.
        • media interests + pirate bay + US = not in media's interest to report "information sharing" which would allow them to extend civil and possibly criminal actions in the US and Sweden.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lazy Jones (8403)

      Makes you think. I mean, those people are supposedly being voted into office by the majority, supposedly working for their interests. Why the hush-hush-rush-rush?

      Conspiracy theory: certain agencies are bribing or otherwise pressurizing officials in many countries to introduce this kind of legislation, as it gives them indirect access to wanted information (most countries pass on sensitive information about their own citizens to the CIA etc. more liberally than they could use it in court themselves). If lo

      • You know, life gets scary when conspiracy theories start making sense...

        But why do you think certain companies would take the detour and bribing officials in the US to bribe officials in Europe? It's easier to bribe just everyone directly. Cuts the middle man, saves money and avoids unwanted Chinese whisper effects.
    • by copponex (13876) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @03:04AM (#23819719) Homepage
      This may seem counter-intuitive at first, and believe me I don't compare any current people to MLK or any nonsense like that. However, like the civil rights movement, the internet offers a place for regular people to exchange information and ideas (at very little cost and in a semi-anonymous fashion). Websites like Wikileaks frankly scare the shit out of governments. The masses are, and always will be, the #1 enemy of the state.

      Basically, as the internet grows more adept at connecting disparate people, the less likely we'll be willing to fight wars. I can go right now and become friends or at least become familiar with someone from China, Iran, Egypt, and even Iraq. Wars, especially for America, are extremely profitable for the propertied classes. It's the reason businesses like Standard Oil sold to the Nazis and the British in WWII. It's the reason IBM had no qualms helping the Germans index Jews for extermination. Now these same companies lobby to congresspeople on a daily basis, and you and I will probably never meet our representatives in person.

      And people wonder why the needs of the people aren't being met. It's really quite simple - the people don't matter to most governments. They are the enemy. The people at the top -- you know, the 1 percent of people who own nearly half of all investments in the stock market -- really like things the way they are.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rossz (67331)
      I personally don't believe that more anti-freedom laws are popping up these days. The internet is just making us more aware of them when they do pop up.
  • The complacency of American citizens is disturbing. It's almost comparable to Germans "going with the flow" in the 1930's. Privacy, judicial review, and the right to a fair and open trial are being sucked down the drain with only a mild whimper.
             
  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @02:17AM (#23819465)

    the largest ISP in Sweden, moved mail servers to Finland because their Finnish customers were getting worried.
    I would be too. Not sure if the Swedish folks really understand how much this sort of law will effect technology growth in their country detrimentally.
    • Does this make any difference?

      The Govt. would still have their monitoring kit on the exit pipes, so they'll just duplicate the traffic en route and analyse it instead of on some ISP's server.

      The way out is Tor.
  • Politicians... (Score:2, Informative)

    by ciryon (218518)
    It should be noted that it is unknown if the ruling block is pressuring its members of parliament. The official statements are "everyone is free to vote after their conviction". Also, the law was actually first introduced by the previous ruling block (the lefties). That said, it's absolutely moronic and it seems like the parliament members are the only ones in Sweden in favour of the law. What the hell do we need politicians for again?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tryfan (235825)

      It should be noted that it is unknown if the ruling block is pressuring its members of parliament. The official statements are "everyone is free to vote after their conviction".

      Your statement is totally false. It has been explicitly stated from several leading officials for the ruling right-wing alliance that members might even be expelled if they don't vote according to the party lines.
      Even the prime minister has been very clear about that every alliance parliament member is supposed to vote along party lines.
      It seems that several of these are very uncomfortable about the law, and one member of the Liberal party has stated that she will abstain from voting.
      It takes only four mem

  • There goes Scandinavia, the last civilized big brother-free region of the earth. Oh, well, there's always Antarctica.

    Who's comin' with me?!
    • canada?

      granted the threat is there, but they seem to have beaten them back every time so far, and the kicker is Geist and his ilk are frequently brought in as guest columnists for the main stream press there.
    • Re:Shit, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BetterThanCaesar (625636) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:56AM (#23820367)

      Sweden has one of the biggest watching Brothers in the world. We've been registered for hundreds of years - first by the church, then by the state. We don't need to register ourselves to vote - the state knows if we are qualified. Most of us don't need to do our taxes, just send an SMS to confirm that the numbers are correct - the state already knows how much we've earned, how much we own, and how much we've got saved in bank accounts and shares.

      And we trust Big Brother. We've voted for the social democrats for the most part the last hundred years. Parties win elections by promising tax raises. We trust Big Brother.

      We're seen as a copyright safe haven because our laws are not yet draconian, but it's all a process. Our anti-commercialism of course plays a role here. Big scary USA companies want to create and enforce laws in Sweden? No way!

      Still, people don't see Big Brother as Big Brother watching, but rather as Big Brother making things easier and helping us when we need him. That's probably why this law has become so controversial. It does not help Swedish citizens. We're not afraid of "terrorism". Our government can't pull that crap on us.

  • Ugh, outside the flamewar:
    I have seen the banner on thepiratebay.org [thepiratebay.org] while searching for, uh, legal downloads for uh, research. The banner link leads here: STOPPA FRA [stoppafralagen.nu].
  • by DeanFox (729620) * <.spam.myname. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:20AM (#23821525)

    World over the same tactic is being repeated: Governments conspire to become more Big Brother...
    Do they really have a choice? 50 years ago the population was 2.5 billion. In less than the average lifespan the population has grown to 6.6 billion. Like that wonderful teaching tale from India of doubling a grain of rice for 30 days, we are in for a world of hurt when it doubles again.

    It takes time and they need to start now building the infrastructure. My point is, how are the governments who see what's coming, plan to maintain order when the population grows beyond their capacity to police it if they don't use automation?

    Considering the population limit that the Earth can reasonably support is around seven billion using artificial energy like hydrocarbon. Take away artificial energy (peak oil) and the Earth can only support about three billion. Add to that changing climate, changing growing patterns, water shortages... Smart government leaders are anticipating and planning for the eventual chaos.

    When the Earth eventually reverts back to being able to support (only) two billion and there's 12 billion to feed how will governments control the populace unless the steps are taken today to build the infrastructure to control the population? No legislation will solve the problem. They can only plan for it.

    -[d]-

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