Sweden has a fairly good reputation around the world as a good place to live. However, this reputation comes from a previous era, and in a series of articles, I will point out how things have changed in recent years. Today: did you know that Sweden’s security authority FRA wiretaps all of Sweden’s population, all of the time?
In 2008, there was a huge battle for civil liberties in Sweden that shook the administration to its core, but in the end, the administration won and the civil liberties activists – from all colors of the political spectrum – lost. The battle concerned the so-called “FRA law”, named from the security agency that it concerned, the Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA).
As a background, the FRA had used a loophole in the law since 1976 that allowed it (maybe) to wiretap all phonecalls that were routed over satellites, by erecting their own receiver dishes next to the telco ones. This allowed them to receive all the satellite signals, in identical copies to what the intended receiver dish did. The law they used to justify this behavior was one that said that privacy cannot be expected over radio waves, and that anybody may listen to anything sent over radio – which makes sense with shortwave-type radio amateur equipment, but not necessarily with satellite links: when you pick up the phone, you expect privacy, regardless of the technical route of the phonecall. (Read more)