2007-03-07

Mass surveillance bill might get postponed for a year - with a little luck

According to Swedish news agency TT, the controversial mass surveillance law might be postponed for a year if enough members of the parliament demands it. Two opposition parties have already decided to try to make it so, but will need support from further MPs.

Since even MPs belonging to the parties in government are highly critical of this proposition, that would effectively put Sweden in a state of survelliance resembling that of the former Eastern Europe, the government is now trying broke a deal with the Social Democrats.

But, despite the fact that the Social Democrats have laid the groundworks of mass surveillance during the last few years, they now see a chance to play the good guys. They are not saying they are pro this bill, but they keep it "an open question." Not to be fooled, of course, chances are they will sooner or later regain power and hardly object to being a step closer to the Bodström society, now perhaps better described as the Bodström-Odenberg society. But perhaps, who knows, in a few years, people might have forgotten about how they were the once building the base for this development.

During the Pirate Demonstration last month, however, representatives of Young Pirates, youth organisation of the Swedish Pirate Party already said to Swedish Television that the main strategy was to get a postponement in the Parliament for a year, so that the matter could rise up on the agenda, since the only reason people are not reacting more powerfully on these developments is that they are simply not aware of them.

Below is the full message in my translation.

Controversial law can be stopped in parliament

On Thursday, Defense minister Mikael Odenberg is to finish the law of signal surveillance against computer and tele trafic through cable. The parliament might however stop the controversial propostion for a year.

- He can't be certain to pass this proposition this year, says former minister of justice Thomas Bodström (s).

The defense minister is hoping that the law can be put into effect on July 1 this year. It gives the right for FRA (Försvarets Radioanstalt - The Radio Institution of the Defense Forces) to keep surveillence of all tele communications to and from the country that goes through cable.

According to the constitution, a minority of 60 MPs can force a postponement for twelve months, since it is a proposition limiting freedoms and rights of individuals.

The Left party and the Green Party have already decided to try to force the postponement. Green Party mouthpiece Peter Eriksson has also demanded a debate when the proposition is handed to the Parliament. The two parties will however need support from other MPs to manage to halt the proposition for a year.

To avoid delays, Odenberg (m) have stated that he would consult with the Social Democrats concerning the prooisition. S, however, have not in advance wanted to declair their position on the matter. According to the parliaments Defense Committee chairman Ulrica Messing (s) it is an "open" question if the party is to support a delay.

Basically the Social Democrats believe that the FRA needs to be able to perform surveillence not only radio trafic, but also data- och tele communications through cable. But it has to be weighed against the protection of personal integrity, according to Messing.

Bodström also points towards a less highlighted part of the proposition, that he believes should be discussed further. The military is given the possibility to perform intelligence gathering in Sweden, something that collides with police tasks.

- We have always been clear that it is the work of the police to conduct crime investigations, and the work of the military to defend the nation.

The governmental parties have negotiated changes to strengthen personal integrity in the proposition, and have done so untill the last second before the decision was taken this Thursday.

Those who wants to delay it will have the support of statements that will be made by the Parliamentary Committee of Defense of Personal Integrity in a few weeks. The committee has investigated the laws of recent years and will come to the conclusion that there has been too little analysis of how personal integrity is affected.

Several right wing MPs in the committee are expressing criticism on that the government has not awaited the statement before pushing the proposition.

- It's not serious, says Annie Johansson (c).

Her fellow party member, former MP Agne Hansson says that integrity matters is not kept high on the agendy these days.

The controversial surveillance biil is now also facing criticism from a pure technical viewpoint. It will not be possible to separate foreign data trafic from domestic data traic, according to Patric Fältström, who has been leading the IT-political stragety group of the government for the last years, according to Swedish Radio.

It is crucial for this bill that it is possible to separate trafic within Sweden from trafic to other countries, since the FRA according to the proposition can only monitor data and telecommunications to and from other countries.

- It is extremely difficult to determine if the trafic is really passing between someone in Sweden and someone outside of Sweden. My position is that it's impossible, says Patric Fältström to Swedish Radio.

From TT.

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