You know there has been an awful lot of press going on here in Sweden following parliament’s approval of the controversial law on wire-tapping. Effectively the FRA-law makes Sweden the most surveyed country in western Europe. This wiretapping law enables the intelligence authorities here to ‘listen’ on all traffic -Hotmail, msn, sms, etc., across Sweden’s borders. The law becomes effective in 15 months, or this is when intelligence can start listening.
That this law has been passed is quite remarkable. It was following some pretty heated discussions in parliament and the final vote was 47 against with 53 for. The argument for tapping of international lines is ‘terrorism’. The problem is that government officials in general -it doesn’t matter which country this is- are easily influenced by the ‘fear’ of terrorism as heightened by media leading to some hysteria. They just don’t get it, you know that terrorists will just encrypt their communications, so the government will be wasting a whole load of tax payers money (and there is a lot in Sweden) on this pointless project.
Of course one can always monitor ‘traffic patterns’ which can be as revealing as the communications’ contents themselves in certain situations, but really when doing a mass analysis of data, one needs start with communications’ contents to create the needed rules, and to narrow down the scope to a realistic size that can be monitored effectively.
So they will be listening and reading ‘innocent’ traffic and be able to do traffic analysis on the encrypted traffic. I wonder how this is going to help the fight against terrorism? Then of course we can speculate on what comes next? After all the passing of one such law just opens the flood gates for a whole load more laws that invade our privacy. What about the blood bank they have on all newborns since 1976? This is offidically used for ‘research’ but on 1 occasion since used to convict a killer by his DNA, and then the law was modified to enable it to be used to identify victims of the Tsunami disaster. What will be next?
I would expect Swedish authorities to be a hot contender for the ‘Big Brother Awards’ for 2008 and 2009. Maybe they will win, such an honour to bestow on a country with such a long reputation for human rights.