The Swedish citizens will get all their phone calls and e-mail traffic wiretapped in real time not just by the Swedish NSA branch, but also by police, customs, the tax authority, and others. These plans were revealed today by the Ny Teknik magazine, sending shockwaves among civil rights activists. This follows a previous law change that gave the Swedish NSA branch, the FRA, realtime access to all Internet traffic that crossed the country borders – effectively wiretapping everybody warrantlessly all the time.
Circumventing the entire legislative process and every democratic shred of oversight, the Swedish Police are demanding voluntary agreements from telecom operators to give the Police and other Swedish authorities direct and real-time access to phone call data, mail traffic, and much more. This is not just the slippery slope into an Orwellian society that civil rights activists have warned about: this is a slippery precipice.
We’re now officially past the point where “national security” (and the the ever-present disgusting child porn/terrorism argument) is used to justify bulk warrantless wiretapping of everybody, all the time. We’ve arrived at the point where the Police justify the complete elimination of entire classes of civil liberties with nothing more than “because it can be done, and we want it”.
The authorities that would get direct real-time access to most communications aren’t just the Police, but also the Customs Office, the Security Police, and the Tax Authority (!!).
A key difference between a functioning democracy and a police state is, that in a functioning democracy, the Police don’t get everything they point at. While the border between the two is arguably a lot of gray area, and subject to a lot of polemic, it can no longer be reasonably stated that police powers are under checks and balances.
According to the Ny Teknik article, followed up by many others in Swedish oldmedia, it’s not just real-time data on phone calls and mail that the Police are demanding. A sample of other things included in the proposed mass surveillance package:
- How telecom bills are paid – cash, credit, direct deposit. If credit card, which one, and if direct deposit, from which bank account.
- The subscriber’s PUK code, enabling a police authority to activate the cellphone’s SIM card without the subscriber’s PIN code.
There are hints in the article that many other items may be covered by the realtime wiretapping, referring to a wiretapping standard called ITS27.
The only telecom operator to say a blank never, this is completely unthinkable to the Police demands is the Swedish Tele 2.
The fact that the Swedish regime isn’t immediately firing everybody in the Police demanding this wholesale abolition of civil rights is practically an endorsement of the plans – and one that goes hand in hand with the much-criticized Swedish FRA Law that legalized warrantless bulk wiretapping in the first place.
UPDATE – a followup article in Ny Teknik reveals that the wiretapping standard ITS27 mentioned above was developed by the British spy agency GCHQ.