Norwegian group joins Sweden-based Justice Center against Swedish FRA law

By EDRi · February 25, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Norwegische Gruppen schließen sich dem Justizzentrum gegen das schwedische FRA-Gesetz an |]

The Norwegian organisation of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
has filed a petition, known as a Third Party Intervention, in support of the
case brought to the European Court of Human Rights challenging the Sweden’s
FRA law that authorizes the Sweden’s National Defence Radio Establishment
(Försvarets radioanstalt – FRA) to wiretap all telephone and Internet
traffic that crosses Sweden’s borders.

The legislative package which was passed by the Parliament of Sweden on 18
June 2008 and took effect on 1 January 2009, was fiercely criticized and
opposed in Sweden by the public, opposition parties, the appeal courts for
Skåne and Blekinge, Sweden’s Customs Agency, the Data Inspection Board and
even politicians belonging to the alliance government.

A case was filed in July 2008 by the Sweden-based Justice Center (Centrum
för Rättvisa – CFR), which argued FRA’s expanded powers to monitor
cross-border communications traffic violated Article 8 and Article 13 of the
European Convention on Human Rights guaranteeing the citizens’ right to
privacy and ensuring the citizens with the possibility to hold national
authorities to account for possible human rights violations.

According to Lawyer Robin Lööf of the European University Institute in
Florence who reported the Swedish law to the European Commission in August
2008, the law is in clear breach of fundamental rights governing the
movement of goods and services in the European Union.

Clarence Crafoord, head attorney with CFR welcomed the Third Party
Intervention of the Norwegian group considering the initiative “offers
additional perspectives about the problems with the FRA-law and it’s good
that it makes clear to the European Court of Human Rights that the law
affects both Swedes and citizens in other countries.”

The Norwegian petition cites a report issued by the Norwegian Postal and
Telecoms Agency in November 2008 which showed that most electronic
communications traffic into and out of Norway as well as a large part of the
domestic traffic passes through Sweden, the Swedish law therefore affecting
the privacy rights of Norwegian citizens.

Although the Swedish government brought some changes to the law with an
amendment in September 2008, in ICJ-Norway’s opinion the changes apply
only to Swedish citizens or people residing in Sweden. The group believes
that Norwegian citizens’ communications are the “explicit target for the
secret monitoring by Swedish authorities”.

“Norwegian citizens are still left lawless under the present
legislation.(…) They are faced with the constant risk that their private
communications which happen to pass Sweden’s borders could be subject to
interception and be subsequently stored, distributed, and misused by and at
the absolute discretion of the Swedish authorities,” writes ICJ-Norway in
its petition.

ICJ-Norway points out a series a deficiencies in the formulation of the law
which includes vague definitions of the targeted communications, the lack of
clear regulations on information storing, the lack of independent judicial
control and the lack of possibility of response for the citizens whose
communications are intercepted.

Norwegian group joins case against Sweden’s wiretapping law (13.02.2009)

Swedish surveillance law ‘breaks EU rules’ (13.08.2008)

Goverment getting closer to surveillance law compromise (25.09.2008)

Snoop law to be tried in European court (15.07.2008)

EDRI-gram: ENDitorial: Wiretapping – the Swedish way (27.08.2008)