2008-06-17

Law on communications tapping scorned from abroad

The Swedish FRA law is condemned by several international NGOs. Among these are Privacy International, a London based foundation based in 50 countries which works against electronic monitoring of citizens and for a stronger protection of privacy and openness.

Privacy International's vice secretary general David Banisar has followed the debate of the Swedish FRA law for some time.

"I can't imagine how this law is going to be able to meet the demands of the European Declaration of Human Rights, Banisar says to DN.


He can't think of any European equivalents to the FRA law, and says it's one of the most far reaching acts he has seen in this field:

"The closest you get, the way I see it, is the controversial decision of the Bush administration to bypass the law and monitor all American communications with other countries, even that on internal matters."


Echelon is a huge American-British network for search pattern basedlinetaping, the largest information collection and monitoring network that has ever existed. According to Privacy International, Echelon is able to get itself into and spy on the tele- and data trafic of almost any country and with very limited judicial control. The system is estimated to catch around 3 billion communications a day.

Echelon is primarily controlled by the US and the UK, but Australia, New Zeeland and Canada also adds to the surveillance.

Surprisingly enough, David Banisar claims that the FRA in a way actually works in an even broader fashion.

"In reality it will contain Swedish domestical communication as well, if it happens to cross the borders."


The European Federation of Journalists, EFJ, has also made a statement where they condemn the Swedish bill proposal. Electronic monitoring of tele- and e-mail communications is breaking international and European legislation, the EFJ concludes. In the European Parliament the FRA bill is questioned by, among others, the French MEP Benoît Hamon, prominent socialist and former coworker of Martin Aubry, minister of Labour in the Jospin administration. Hamon has written a letter with a number of questions about the bill to the European Convention: He wants to know if the Convention believes that the FRA bill is compatible with European legislation and with the European Declaration of Human Rights. He also asks if the Commision has any idea wether or not the Swedish government has taken any measure to protect non-Swedes. He also asks if there are any connections to monitoring networks ouside of the EU, primarily Echelon.

Håkan Jevrell, state secretary in the Ministry of Defence, claimed in DN yesterday that the Swedish law isn't unique in the world or in Europe. However, his only concrete example was Echelon.

In fact, it is very hard to get a greater picture of what models of surveillance that are in use in other EU countries, and if they can be compared with the FRA bill. Except for the UK, the Netherlands and Germany has implemented some fort of surveillance. But details about how these countrie control their signal fishing, or other European example, are things that the Ministry of Defense hasn't been able to provide DN with.

"I don't think we have any such informations specifically about tapping withing the EU", department employee Per Anderman says.


Tove Nandorf, DN

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