Non-Swedish readers may think that this post is about France or perhaps Frankfurt, but we are dealing with something more sinister: FRA is short for Försvarets Radioanstalt – the Swedish Defence Forces’ Radio Surveillance.
The Swedish government in its wisdom has presented a proposal which means that FRA as a rule will be monitoring ALL electronic communication between Sweden and the outside world – and that includes not only radio and TV but also, or perhaps: especially, telephone and internet traffic.
The Swedish government’s argument boils down to something like “if you’re innocent, you have nothing to fear”. Er, no: The basis of a liberal order of law is that the state shouldn’t mess with your personal life unless it has a well-founded reason to suspect criminal activity.
Swedish TV has pointed out that as it uses a UK-based spam-fighting service, all e-mails sent to SvT will be automatically monitored by the intelligence service. Whoops: There went the anonymity for news media’s sources.
To say that the Swedish blogosphere has been up in arms would be an understatement. Scandinavian readers may want to take a look at a leftish and a rightish colleague who are equally angry. Google has protested and so have representatives for Swedish IT-companies. And what happens, when you do research into terrorism and al-Qaida?
The “war on terror” has had its fair share of train-wrecks – personally I find the US government’s promotion of the use of
enhanced interrogation techniques torture one of the saddest moments in modern history – and this only adds to the misery. What is interesting from a Danish perspective is that the former leader of the Danish intelligence service has consistently warned politicians against over-dramatising the situation and limiting civil liberties. Somehow I see the granting of indiscriminate powers to police and intelligence services as an indication of a failure to consider and use existing means to organise an effective intelligence gathering organisation rather than an appropriate response to terrorist activities. This will give work to political scientists in the future.
And in case you wonder: The server which hosts this blog is placed in Denmark and so is the mail-server for my @jacobchristensen.name-mail. Which means that if you are sitting in Sweden and reading this, FRA will be looking over your shoulder if the Swedish government has its way.