Sweden becomes an Orwellian nightmare – the FRA debacle

During the summer, the dreaded FRA law was voted for and accepted by the Swedish Parliament. Basically, this law allows the government to go through all digital communication going across the borders of Sweden. Meaning, if I read my Gmail, do a Google search or whatever, they will get complete access to that information.

This information will then be filtered by their super-intelligent keywords and matching technology, and let me tell you, I still await the day when something like this actually works in a relevant and just manner. And besides, even if it did work, what would prevent any evil employee to just get information anyway and use it or sell it?

Naturally, there has been, and still is, an uproar in Sweden about this, and even though the Parliament is supposed to complement the law this fall, it is bound to run into both problems nationally, as well as internationally in the form of the European Union. Journalists and bloggers alike has killed any explanation or motivation from the government with dead-solid arguments, and instead of discussing the situation, the government has only acted with disrespect and quotes like: “You just don’t understand”. This will cost them the next election, mark my words.

And speaking of the next election, in 2010, the opposition has promised to remove this law if they win, which is even more bullshit, since they were the ones who initiated it in the first place when they were in power. The sick irony of this is that terrorists and countries the tiny play country of Sweden want to survey will of course encrypt and hide their communication in any way possible, while this will affect private and innocent persons.

The ridiculous notion that the government should own all digital communication is a travesty of justice, and a deadly blow to the integrity of the entire Swedish population. There’s a vast difference between efficient intelligence work and creating a, completely uncalled-for, big brother society.

If you’re Swedish, want to know more and support the fight against such an assault on privacy and integrity, please visit stoppaFRAlagen.nu (In Swedish).

12 Comments

  • Devon says:

    Sweden, welcome to the 21st century. This kind of thing has been the way government in the USA has handled internet usage for about a decade. They started with some software called Carnivore, then switched to just using commercially available software to achieve the same purposes.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Devon,

    I think the main differences here compared to the US is that this is a law that all ISP:s hand over all of their information to the government, not just information that might match any filter criteria.

    And this is not done in an eavesdropping manner, like the FBI, but rather in a completely open way that goes right up to the top of the government.

  • Jens Meiert says:

    Isn't that actually similar to what Denmark does since this year? I do not want to repeat my concerns about this development but just agree and underscore that this is more than just counter-productive yet harmful. Surveillance and control do neither help nor equal security, and the price to be paid is incredibly high, it's freedom.

  • RobertDM says:

    I have only 3 words to add: George Orwell 1984

  • mdmadph says:

    Hey, if you're not using encryption by this point, it's your fault.

    Don't trust any line of electronic communication not to be monitored — get yourself a copy of TrueCrypt, and start using it. Get your friends and families to start using it. Sign and encrypt your emails, etc.

    Don't both trying to fight these laws — this is the way things are headed, and you need to start protecting yourself NOW.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Jens,

    Not really sure about Denmark, to be honest. And absolutely, excessive fear and control leads to less freedom, and ultimately a less good world to spend your life in.

    RobertDM,

    Oh yes.

    mdmadph,

    I do agree that electronic communications are by default not secure. But, what I oppose here is something as ridiculous as storing all information no matter what, and that this is done by the people we should trust (the government), which now instead just becomes the most mistrusted instance.

    And really, while encryption is good, there will never ever happen that you can get an entire country to use it (and would we really want that?).

  • Let's form a Swedish militia, arm ourselves and live in the hills!

    Seriously though, laws like these are severely restricting the basic rights of citizens in what is supposed to be one of the most open-minded countries in the world.

    Now, if I only had the right to vote in Sweden…

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Morgan,

    If it were up to me, you would definitely be welcome to vote here! πŸ™‚

  • mdmadph says:

    @Robert

    Would I want an entire country using encryption? An entire country full of knowledgeable people who want to keep their information absolutely private? Yes, yes I would.

    Come on, folks — information collection on a mass scale like this is nothing new. (Remember "Echelon?") Use encryption — problem solved.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    mdmadph,

    Personally, I think it's sad if we live in a world where all information has be encrypted.

    Echelon is also different from this, since this is a law that demands all ISPs to deliver all their information to the government; it's not some hidden away system just spying on traffic.

  • Marco says:

    This is unfortunately really not just a Swedish issue. They do this everywhere whether they officially admit it or not. No difference really. Using hardcore encryption is an option but … it will instantly label you as 'suspicious' which defeats the purpose really in my opinion.

    I do wonder how they're gonna monitor ALL information though. I bet that will cost a good amount of taxpayers money.

    The sad thing is that with pretty much all privacy invading measures governments take, most of us probably saw it coming from miles away. This is what scares me the most. You can just see it coming but yet you can't do shit about it. I'm waiting for the day when you'll have a mandatory tracking chip implanted in your arm.

    Crazy? That's what they said about monitoring your phonecalls and internet usage as well. For now the only way to escape from this madness seems to get out of the western world and move to a somewhat less developed country where you have a few decades left before the same stuff starts happening there as well. I'm starting to feel really tempted to actually do that.

    George Orwell would probably shoot himself in the head if he were alive to see what's becoming of society these days.

    Sad… sad…

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Marco,

    Yes, sadly it seems that the only option is to go live in some hut in Pacific. Hey, wait a minute… That doesn't sound too bad. πŸ™‚

    But really, I agree that it's extremely frustrating to see this coming and not just being able to stop it in any way. In regards to monitoring, I think a lot of information is supposed to be flushed, when their algorithms have gone thorugh it and found nothing dangerous.

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