Cheering too soon

Recently, I reported that there is a chance that the social democrats might force a postponement on the Stasi law of defense minister Odenberg, that their own former justice minister Bodström developed before the elections last year.

I also pointed out that Bodström and the social democrats have nothing principally against mass surveillance - quite the contrary, they wouldn't mind it at all when they regain power in 2010 or 2014 - but they are now trying to take popularity points as this legislation is turning out to be a hot potatoe.

I guess I can only confirm that I was right.

The Social Democrats have started working on their own proposition of surveillance legislation.

Today the party held a hearing where critical voices could make themselves heard.

Defense minister Mikael Odenberg have adjusted his original proposition. But it is not enough, according to Board of Attorneys representative Anne Ramberg and the chairman of Directory Committee and former head of SÄPO (Swedish National Security Agency) Anders Eriksson.

Ramberg protests against the fact that the proposition that lets FRA listen in on all tele trafic and read e-mail, faxes and text messages to and from Sweden will make possible an unregulated retrieval of information.

"We are talking about surveillance on a scale that we have never been close to before," said Anne Ramberg, who think that such revolutionizing legislation must be prepared differently.

"Why such a hurry? Why not take a step back?" she asks and called for an independent body authorizing the surveillance.

Anders Eriksson agree and compared with other countries that have more far-reaching limits [to survelliance - my comment], such as the US and Germany.

Former Justice Minister Thomas Bodström also wants new rules for surveillance but he is critical of the proposition from the government.

"We will bring our own proposition where Anne Ramberg's and Anders Eriksson's views will be important", Bodström says and calls for an independent body of control.

The non-socialist parties have left an opening for changes in the proposition during its handling in parliament. The committees of defense, justice and constitution are to hold a public hearing and the decision is not to be made until June.

The governmental party MPs are happy to remind anyone that it was the social democrats that created the proposition. But Bodström says:

"We have failed the propositions of both the old government and the new one."

If the social democrats can't get support for their opinions, they will reach the minority protection the parliament provides and postpone the proposition for a year.


So, the social democrats will make their own proposition about mass surveillance á la Eastern Germany. The main difference is that they want a control body (which they also had in Eastern Germany, by the way), and they will take the opinions of a lawyer and the former head of the Swedish Security Services into account! But they will also only postpone the decision if these changes doesn't get through.

So there is really difference at all, in other words.

But, even if we are lucky and the proposition does get postponed, we shouldn't believe we are safe just yet. Because there are three other surveillance propositions waiting to get sneaked through as well. The Pirate Party made a press release on March 13.

The social democrats have made it understood that they will probably vote with the Green Party and the Left Party for a postponement of the FRA proposition. The mass surveillance that the government has planned will then have to wait for at least a year.

"But there are three other almost identical propositions just around the corner, that threatens integrity just as much, says Pirate Party chairman Rickard Falkvinge.

Science Radio reported on March 13 on one of these propositions, one called "Availability of electronic communication in crime investigations", or SOU 2005:38. The proposition says that police is going to be able to place bugs in computers, and that internet providers are to be forced to spy on all their customers, all the time, for the benifit of the National Board of Police. The idea is that a police officer or another personal involved in state administration can watch what a person has done at a given time. The internet providers are to pay the bill for the surveillance and the gigantic database that is required.

"Just like in the case of the FRA proposition, it is a matter of mass surveillance of ordinary citizens that are not even suspected of crime. This is the wrong direction to go for our society", says Rickard Falkvinge.

Another proposition that is expected to be brought up in parliament during spring is the Data Storage Directive, due to be integrated into Swedish legislation before June. It is a EU directive from the winter of 2005, where Thomas Bodström was a key architect. Just like the proposition on electronic communications, it is about internet providers being forced to register what their customers are doing and give this information to authorities. Critics claim that this clash with the European Convention and thus can not and should not be implemented.

"From having a mail secrecy where it has been forbiden for the operators to store information about our private communications, we are now going to have laws that says that they are forced to do it, says Rickard Falkvinge. Information about all text messages, e-mails and phone calls are to be logged in a gigantic database. They are also being forced to store our movements through to"wn, by continously taking the bearings of all cellular phones."

The third proposition is the so-called Sanction Directive, or IPRED1. This is also a EU directive due to become Swedish legislation. The planned Swedish implementation give the lobby groups of movie and record companies the right to work as police and prosecutors, with more far reaching power than the real judicial system.

"This is how it works in the US, for example. There these lobby groups have put into system forcing tens of thousands of citizens to turn over all their fortunes to them, threatening to sue them for the tripple amounts if they don't comply. They have sent legal threats to 83 year old ladies and 12 year old school girls. This is nothing short of systematic and state sanctioned blackmailing, and this kind of organized crime against our citizens I don't want to see in Sweden," Falkvinge says. "Those that don't believe this could happen in Sweden can watch any other country in Europe - every place where these special interest groups have been given this authority, they act in the same fashion. They are accused of organized mafia methods, and not without reason."

"Each one of these propositions is an abomination against democracy and a direct threat against society if they are made into laws. Sweden is the second worst country in Europe when it comes to protecting our privacy. Why is the government hurrying to create the police state that is the lowest spot on the list? The Pirate Party claimed before the election that there wouldn't be much of a difference between a red or a blue government in this respect, but it is sad to see how correct with were. It is now up to Sweden to confirm that all these propositions is a breach against basic human rights conventions and to refuse to make them into laws," Falkvinge concludes.

We are currently fighting for basic democratic principles in Sweden, believe nothing else. If these propositons are passed and turned into legislation, we have a system of mass surveillance that has not been seen in Europe since well before the fall of the Iron Curtain. Back then we were on the right side of the wall. If these laws are passed, we will quickly find ourselves on the wrong side of the Telescreens.

1 comment:

rami said...

interesting blog