Swedish Govt Preparing New Ways To Watch You

The awful Data Retention Directive appears to be coming to its end in the European Union. On March 23, the Commission will present an evaluation of the directive, which is expected to be damning on pretty much all accounts, according to what has been leaked. Courts in several countries (Germany, Romania, Cyprus, Hungary) has flat out struck down data retention as incompatible with fundamental human rights.

So seeing that the Commission is about to pretty much pull back the entire directive on March 23, what does the Swedish government — which refused to touch this before the elections last year — do? It plans to push through the dystopic surveillance in a vote in parliament on March 16.

This is not just absurd, it is plain irresponsible.

What is Data Retention?

We all love when bad things are given technical and obscure names. Simply put, Data Retention turns your cellphone into a permanent always-active governmental tracking device recording your movement history. Its effects were recently studied in Germany, where the Green politician Malte Spitz allowed his data for six months to be partially analyzed, and we should all watch the results. Motions are tracked down to street level, with minute-by-minute resolution.

In addition to this, Data Retention also tracks all calls, texts and emails to build an image of the people you associate with and when. Think Facebook is bad? Imagine not being given a choice, and then, perhaps being accidentally called by a pusher now and then. “Oops.” Was it your fault? Of course not. Will you suffer for it? Sure you will.

Oh, and Data Retention will also track you on the net, primarily your IP address (but some countries also mandate logging all websites you visit, like Denmark).

Data Retention goes way beyond any surveillance that has ever been available in any pervasive Big Brother state, and it has been pushed by the European Union. One of its architects was the Swedish Big-Brother hawk Thomas Bodström, which was described by the chairman of his own party’s youth wing as “the politician who has flushed civil liberties down the toilet”. His successor, Beatrice Ask, is just as happy introducing pervasive surveillance.

Just today, I got news that the same kind of mass surveillance is being rolled out in Beijing. We hardly have any high moral ground from where to criticize.

Plans of the Swedish Government

Data Retention is being justified by the necessity of police to track really serious criminal activity. Now, while this may sound amicable, we have a tradition in democratic states of not letting the police do everything they want, and I think that’s a pretty good tradition.

The desire to have a closer look at a few individuals does not motivate putting everybody under surveillance. Neither from a legal, philosophical nor human perspective.

However, the next steps of this surveillance are already in place, which include letting the police access the surveillance records for all crimes, from helmetless bicycling and up. Yes, file sharing is specifically mentioned as a target.

The ISP Bahnhof has already gone on record saying it will sabotage the surveillance by a technical construct whereby only useless IP data will be collected, standing firmly on its customers’ side, which in turn caused the copyright industry’s lobby to go stratospheric. Why does the copyright industry want Data Retention so badly? It’s not hard to guess, and they have even gone on record demanding extrajudicial access to the surveillance data.

Do you prefer fundamental human rights or the copyright monopoly?

Forcing this mass-surveillance legislation through Parliament at the last minute when the European Commission is expected to come with an utterly damning evaluation is not just irresponsible. It shows just how much the Swedish Government is in bed with the copyright industry’s lobby and really is architecting a Big Brother society.

Others: Opassande, Anna Troberg, Sagor från Livbåten, Anders S LindbäckHax, Lakes Lakonismer (use Google Translate or browse with Chrome).

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. Putte

    It is called the principle of proportionality. Which means that the police can demand access to almost any information in a murder case but not in a case of shoplifting or speeding with a car.

    It was a very long time since we heard a leading politician defend this principle.

  2. Nisse

    Ni tjatar hela tiden om fildelning. Vakna för f*n! Det handlar inte alls om fildelning och copyright. Det är bara en täckmante för att införa det länge önskade övervakningssamhälle ljusskygga maktgrupper vill ha. För att styra oss alla in i minsta detalj.

    Jag minns när Ulrica Messing var infrastrukturminister hur ursinnig hon blev när markägare motsatte sig det hon ville införa. Rikstäckade mobilmaster där man kunde pejla in varenda jägare och lapp och andra som kunde ha intresse av att inte synas så väl. Käringfan fräste i TV att “..motsätter sig markägarna vår utbyggnad av mobilmasterna så kommer vi att tillämpa exproprieringslagen och tvinga dom”. Det ni. Hon visste mycket väl att masterna skulle användas för totalkontroll av invånarna i Sverige.

    Tänk lite längre än fildelning och copyright. Det är mycket allvarligare än så.


    1. Read Again

      @ Nisse

      Wake up you say?

      I would suggest that you read Falkvinges post one more time and perhaps you will realize that it’s not about file sharing…

  3. RT @falkvinge Swedish Govt Preparing New Ways To Wa.. http://is.gd/uza4vS #civilliberties #dataretention #dld #infopolicy

  4. RT @piratepartyau: Swedish govt preparing new ways to watch you || http://is.gd/zA9utw #ozlog #dataretention

  5. @falkvinge Swedish Govt Preparing New Ways To Spy on Citizens http://is.gd/uza4vS

  6. Falkvinge on Infopolicy: Swedish Govt Preparing New Ways To Watch You – http://bit.ly/eiZB0U

  7. RT @piratbloggar: Falkvinge on Infopolicy: Swedish Govt Preparing New Ways To Watch You:
    The awful Data Retention Directive… http://tinyurl.com/4ryo3eb

  8. RT @deanprocter: I heard that the men were happy to submit to penis cams but they haven’t been able to miniaturise them enough. #Sweden http://bit.ly/hto4Ps

  9. RT @falkvinge Swedish Govt Preparing New Ways To Wa.. http://is.gd/uza4vS #civilliberties #dataretention #dld #infopolicy

  10. RT @falkvinge Swedish Govt Preparing New Ways To Wa.. http://is.gd/TjjrRH #civilliberties #dataretention #dld #infopolicy

  11. Anders

    Apropå Malte Spitz-fallet och övervakning av mobildata:
    Fascinerande visualisering!
    Men det stämmer inte att påstå att man ser exakt hur man har rört sig eller exakt vilken gata man befunnit sig på, rörelsen är interpolerad i animationen. Det kan man se på att mobilen aldrig ser ut att vara stillastående, trots att den säkerligen ligger helt still c:a 8 timmar under natten, samt att knytpunkterna i animationen alltid har sitt urspung och mål exakt där basstationens radioantenn befinner sig.
    Animationen utger sig för att vara mer exakt än vad informationen innebär. Det man kan säga med hög säkerhet är att man har befunnit sig i den antennsektor som lyses upp, i de lägen telefonen har varit påslagen.
    Det stämmer alltså INTE att påstå att “Motions are tracked down to street level, with minute-by-minute resolution”, upplösningen är avsevärt lägre i både position och tid.
    Man kan också lura systemet genom att
    1. Slå av telefonen.
    2. Flytta sig vart som helst.
    3. Komma tillbaka till samma sektor man var när man stängde av telefonen.
    4. Slå på telefonen igen.

  12. Rev. Smith

    Some times the enemy’s enemy is your friend, so lets hope that the Swedish Democrats are firm to their ultimatum.

    1. Durkå



      1. Rick Falkvinge

        This is not an acceptable attitude. Please see the troll policy.


    2. Magnus

      But then you have the secret of WuTui. In a sense it is a simple test in logic. The test is: what is this secret? If logic states that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’, the most exquisite secret that could be proposed is to just pretend to be enemies, but be very secret friends at top. With this only we, secretly, will know everything.

  13. Björn Persson

    If there’s anybody who ever believed the politicians’ excuse that “we don’t want this but the EU is forcing us”, well, if they don’t delay the voting another week to see the Commission’s evaluation first, that should do away with that excuse.

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