Telecom chiefs and public protest against surveillance laws

11th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

Swedish business figures and the general public have written an open letter to their government questioning the recent law allowing universal media surveillance

Stockholm -- Sweden's new law on monitoring data traffic within the country is coming under pressure with the heads of the eight leading mobile phone service providers signing a letter protesting against it Thursday.

The letter published in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper also said that the Google search company is considering withdrawing its servers from Sweden because of the law. In the past Google has bowed to the Chinese government over providing information and is keen to avoid a repeat.

The surveillance law allows the authorities to monitor all international telephone calls and emails sent via international servers without a court order or warrant.

Political representatives have received more than six million protest emails since the law was passed in mid-June by a tiny majority

Mona Sahlin, leader of Sweden's opposition Social Democrats,  has promised that a new government would tear up the law. Sweden is currently led by a coalition of centre-right parties under the leadership of Fredrik Reinfeldt.

The Svenska Dagbladet newspaper reported from a number of anonymous government sources that the real reason for the law is so Swedish intelligence can monitor data traffic to and from Russia, around eighty percent of which which travels through Sweden.

One source from the intelligence services told  the Stockolm daily,"  Ostensibly it is about protecting the lives of Swedish people. At present we know a lot about our locality and Russia, other countries know more about theirs. We have to retain a high level of capability so that we have something to bargain with. For example when Sweden deployed troops to Chad in Africa last spring. There we exchanged information with others who know a lot about Chad."

Russia meanwhile has vowed to circumvent Sweden when transferring data.

Swedish defence minister Sten Tolgfors has declined to comment on the newspaper revelations.

Dominic Hinde/DPA

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