Happy New Year. This is my first day back in Sweden. It’s also my first day living under the new FRA law (a.k.a. Lex Orwell). How does it feel to be under electronic surveillance 24/7? The word “suck” comes to mind.
Under this law the Swedish Government will now monitor and record every email, phone call, and fax that crosses its borders. Further, the web surfing habits of every citizen will now be monitored and recorded. In fact any telephone call or other electronic transmission that get routed via Sweden (whether it originated here or not) will be analyzed by a supercomputer and flagged if its of interest.
What could be of interest to the Swedish government? A look at the search criteria they have been authorized to use may give a hint. The law gives the government the right to search for ‘deviants’ using searches based on what is known about a person’ race, ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, philosophical convictions, trade union membership, health or sex life.
The idea is to first track all your activity: what you buy with online credit card payments, what websites you visit, who you call on the phone, SMS, fax or send emails to and what you discuss. Next a powerful computer will analyze all your activity to identify your lifestyle patterns and gain insight into your personality. This is called social network analysis. If your profile appears deviant, for whatever reason, you will be flagged and they will have the right to investigate you further. It may take years for a pattern to emerge so in the mean time they will also have to keep copies of all your activity.
Even more comforting was the revelation in the Swedish press on 16 June 2008, that the Swedish government had already been secretly monitoring and storing civilian communication without warrants for the past ten years.
The new FRA law will work in connection to the Personal Data Act (which was enacted in 1998). The Act says information collected on citizens can be shared with third parties. The Act also contains provisions concerning destruction of records, “but at the same time Chapter 6, section 1 of the Act contains an opt-out provision permitting retention of records for historical, statistical or scientific purposes.” (Dagens Nyheter, September 3rd 2008 as translated by EDRI)
The FRA law was passed in Stockholm on June 18th 2008 by a vote of 143 to 138 (with one delegate abstaining and 67 delegates not present). What’s most shocking is that this vote mirrors the will of the Swedish people. According to a poll by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, only 47% of Swedes opposed the law at the time of the vote in June, 2008.
Sweden’s main newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, reported on September 3rd 2008 that “ It seems that the MPs didn’t realise what they were voting for when they voted the FRA law in.” (Translation Mark Klamberg). The story was published under the headline “ The FRA Law – Sleepwalking into a Surveillance Society”. How could they have not known? I had seen it debated in the English-speaking press for at at least four months prior to the vote. There were petitions and formal protests. When they arrived to vote on the bill they were greeted by hundreds of angry protesters at the parliament building. “ …the MPs didn’t realise what they were voting for”?
Do I like this law? No. I think it is repulsive. But, I’m just a guest in this country and must cede to the will of the Swedish people and their government. Being a loyal Swedish resident, I feel it is my duty to help my prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, in his quest to abolish civil liberties and privacy in Sweden. That’s why I’m trying to find his email address and fax number. I suggest that every Swede CC Fredrik Reinfeldt (and every other Swedish politician who voted for this law) on every email and fax we send. That way they won’t have to go through the trouble and expense of intercepting them.
The time and money saved could be put towards other measures to protect us like bringing back the Swedish Racial Hygiene Society (est. Stockholm 1910) to continue Sweden’s proud tradition of compulsory sterilization (1927-1976). That program, also voted in by the Swedish parliament on behalf of its citizens, was the world’s second largest eugenics program. Guess who was #1? Here’s a hint: /:=( Sure, castrating half a million people against their will may have violated a few civil liberties, but heck, it sure did prevent all those ‘deviants’ from spreading their undesirable traits here in Sweden. I’m sure the new FRA law will do the same.
So don’t forget to do your part. CC your government officials on all emails, sms, and faxes. You may even want to conference them in on all your phone calls and send them a list of your favorite web sites. Together we can make FRA work to rid Sweden of all deviants once and for all.