WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?Leafing through friends and fellow bloggers’ websites I came across Jim Barrett’s description of rallies against the Swedish FRA law in the small Northern town of Umeå. And that reminded me that I’d meant to write about this law, which has had the Swedish blogosphere in a state of uproar for weeks. You see, the EU has proposed various surveillance laws, to be adopted by member states, where all citizens’ activities online will be stored for up to 18 months, I think, purportedly so that the police can find terrorists and solve crime more easily. It’s easy to imagine other less worthy uses such total surveillance might enable – Europe is mostly pretty democratic today, but a Big Brother surveillance system like this makes totalitarianism easy, and makes civil resistance almost impossible – and totalitarianism in Europe is not that distant: my parents’ generation remember when Norway was occupied by the Nazis; I was still in high school when the Berlin wall fell. Certainly the movie industry will be happy to have such extensive data stored as well.

The biggest principle objection to the law is that suddenly, the government can spy on anyone. Previously, authorities had to have reasonable grounds to suspect that a person was guilty of a crime before they could get a warrant for this. That’s a pretty big shift in what we think of as fair.

The Swedish government just ratified their version of the law, the FRA law, where all cabled transmissions by telephone, fax and email are to be surveilled by the military. The website N?§tverket Stoppa FRA lagen has more information (in Swedish).

The Data Retention Direktive is Norway’s version of this law – which we may or may not be obliged to ratify, as members of the EEC.

The image above is by @nolifebeforecoffee at Flickr, and the stencil is by Banksy, in the underpass by Marble Arch in London.

2 thoughts on “the swedish FRA law and total surveillance in Europe

  1. Kjerstin

    Reading about the debate over these laws both in Norway and other countries, I’m getting more and more curious about how they plan to deal with all the people who will be falsely accused of planning terror. Because there are bound to be a lot of them, probably far more than there will be real terrorists, given the relatively low accuracy that any such preemptive anti-terror law based on surveillance will have (and, after all, real terrorism is extremely rare). Do the law makers have a strategy for this? Or will they just be seen as “collateral damage”, so to speak, and held in detention or under control orders for months without charge or trial? It will be very interesting to see what happens in Sweden in the wake of this law.

  2. Espen Olsen

    One of the interesting things is that the cellphone-operator Tele2 in Norway sends all their text-messages trough their servers in Sweden and this means that all subscribers that has Tele2 will be spied on. Creepy.

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