Sweden passes ‘Big Brother bill’


sweden.jpgPress TV | Swedish lawmakers vote in favor of a controversial bill allowing all emails and phone calls to be monitored over ‘security issues’. Lawmakers voted late on Wednesday on one of the most divisive subjects in Sweden in recent years.

The bill was narrowly passed after a few revisions were made with 143 votes in favor, 138 opposed and one parliamentarian abstaining.

Critics of the bill have slammed the proposal as an attack on civil liberties that would create a “Big brother” state, while supporters say it is necessary to protect the country from foreign threats.

Meanwhile, the new law is due to take effect on January 1, 2009 and will allow the National Defense Radio Establishment (FRA) – a civilian agency despite its name – to tap all cross-border Internet and telephone communication, AFP reported.

However, even though the government has said that only cross-border communications would be monitored, all communications risk getting caught in the net since some internet servers are located abroad and FRA would need to check all emails to establish whether they have crossed the border.

At the moment, FRA is only allowed to check military radio communications but with the new law, they will be able to listen in to all cross-border telephone calls, as well as reading people’s emails and text messages.

The Defense Ministry has meanwhile defended the new law by insisting that the new legislation is necessary in today’s changed world, where communications are increasingly transmitted through fiber-optic cables.

Critics of the new law, including human rights activists, journalists, lawyers and even the former head of the Swedish intelligence agency Saepo, had prior to Wednesday’s revision argued that it didn’t go far enough in protecting individual rights.

However the government for its part insists that it has addressed all concerns by its last minute amendments of the law that adds more independent and parliamentary controls to FRA’s work.


  • Anonymous

    After the Pirate party of Sweden takes this law to the EU council and the EU council votes it down due to its failure to adhere to the basic human rights of having right to privacy in correspondence, the Swedish people should erect a large rectangular (or perhaps in the shape of a "V" for Vendetta) stone in the downtown core of the Swedish capital.

    Upon it, the names of the 143 government representitives should be carved on it, with the following inscription (or something like it) also carved above the names:

    "Herein is a list of the corrupt and cowardly government officials whom in the year 2008 tried to pass a law to spy on the citizens of Sweden, against the wishes of the majority of the people. May all future government officials never forget their primary duty is to represent the people and their interests and not pass laws based on fear of future events that may never take place; or lose face and succumb to pressure from foreign interests whose individuals are not citizens of Sweden".