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Done Deed! Sweden Votes to Spy
We are disappointed to announce that the FRA-law that we discussed in yesterday's blog was actually accepted as law by the Swedish Riksdag (national government) yesterday. The number of delegates voting for the new law was 143 and the number of delegates voting against the law was 138. The number of delegates that were absent, and therefore did not vote, was 67. Only one delegate refused to vote on the matter. Apparently, there was "no time" to wait for a proper investigation of the entire proposal and the addendum, and the decision was to accept the law quickly and then wait for an extra addendum proposal this autumn. The fast process was highly criticized but the directive was to come to a resolution before the summer holidays.
It is easy to believe that a hurried decision was made before the pressure against the law became too much to handle. It certainly isn't the norm when a proposal of this importance is first heavily criticized, spawning a quick addendum proposal that proposes only additional control of the controllers, and finally results in such a hasty acceptance as law.
The addendum proposal that "turned the ship into the harbor of surveillance" states that the Swedish Data Inspection Authority (Datainspektionen) will monitor the activity of FRA, from a privacy perspective, until the year 2011. The Swedish Government is also putting in place a special committee to control FRA from a privacy-invasion point of view. Additionally, the committee should identify if additional measures must be implemented in order to protect the privacy of the Swedish people. The committee has also been directed to appoint a "Privacy Safety Officer" that will guarantee that the privacy of all Swedish inhabitants is maintained. And finally, a board will be formed to manage permissions and determine if special criteria are met in order to allow direct searches against selected persons.
The biggest risk is that those being appointed to control the controllers will not have the full picture, and will receive "filtered" information regarding the activities of FRA.
The result of the new law is that almost all telecommunication- and Internet-traffic within the Swedish national networks may be monitored and it is, realistically, FRA's prerogative - with its love of secrecy - to decide when to do it. The deed is indeed done!