Thursday, 24 July 2008

Feeling threatened?

The FRA want (and at the moment will get) new powers to carry out surveillance on all cable traffic crossing Swedens borders - so we may wonder what is the threat that needs these new powers?

Changes in the law will mean that the scope of FRA activity changes from "external military threats" to just "external threats".. a not insignificant change. So what is Sweden afraid of? (bearing in mind that 'national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country' are the only possible justifications to support a massive violation of the right to privacy given by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.)

Sweden is clearly a high profile target for terrorists.
err. NOT!

Sweden is placed 97 out of 160 on a global terrorism index. Since the infamous 9/11 attack there has been precisely noll fatalities in Sweden from terrorism (casualties in the Bali bombing excluded).
And.. which you might have missed.. terrorism globally is on the decline.
Don't take my word for it - read this well researched report by the Human Security Brief - an organisation part funded by the Swedish government.
So the Swedish government are legislating for increased powers at a time when the real threat is declining... Does that make sense?

Military threat?
What real military threat exists then that threaten the security of the Swedish state?
Sweden has troops deployed on peace keeping duties in Afghanistan for instance - but troops in foreign places aren't the Swedish state and it's hard to see that any attack on troops in Afghanistan could constitute a threat to Sweden - sad as it would be for soldiers relatives if somone died.
What might you consider a proportional threat to justify surveillance of the communications of everyone in the country? If it's not a threat of war or invasion for me it doesn't make the grade... But come on guys - there hasn't been an invading foreign army in Sweden for two hundred years! (...unless you count that unfortunate incident in 1940). Are you really worried about that?

Yes, we know (because Ingvar told us, the scalliwag) that the FRA has helped keep the peace when you've had a tiff while playing chicken with the russians... but that was radio signal monitoring.. and your cable surveillance really isn't going to help there is it?

So, if terrorism is declining, and the real threat to national security isn't at a level to justify mass surveillance. What is left? Can it be a coincidence that you want to broaden your outlook a bit? Political and economic threats... think of all the analysts you can employ stirring that pot....

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