Tuesday, August 05, 2008

FRA-fight

Today Dagens Nyheter organized a live chat with the director of the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA), Ingvar Åkesson. Limited to one thousand characters I had to keep it short so in the end I came to repeat a question I have asked in an earlier blogpost here on Rawls & Me.

It is interesting to see how Ingvar tries to evade my question. Neither I nor anyone else have suggested that FRA will monitor and store *everything*. The violation of the Swedish constitutional rights and the European Convention on Human Rights happens already when they intercept a communication and filter it through their system.

//

Rasmus Karlsson:

I Regeringsformens andra kapitel heter det
som bekant: "Varje medborgare är gentemot
det allmänna skyddad mot [...] hemlig
avlyssning eller upptagning av telefonsamtal
eller annat förtroligt meddelande."
Inskränkningar i dessa fri- och rättigheter får
endast göras för att tillgodose ändamål som
är godtagbara i ett demokratiskt samhälle.
Begränsningar får "ej sträcka sig så långt att
den utgör ett hot mot den fria
åsiktsbildningen". Att veta att allt man läser,
skriver och tänker på hemsidor utanför
Sverige hela tiden automatiskt kopieras till
en statlig avlyssningscentral där det
genomsöks efter statsfientligt material tycks
åtminstone för mig vara just en sådan
inskränkning som ett demokratiskt samhälle
inte kan godta. Jag förstår att du som chef
för FRA är övertygad om att ni endast har de
bästa avsikter. Det finns dock ett principiellt
demokratiteoretiskt problem här som du
gång efter annan verkar oförmögen att ta till
dig.

Ingvar Åkesson:

Jag håller med dig att man i ett demokratiskt
samhälle inte kan godta att allt man läser, tänker
och skriver kopieras av en "statlig
avlyssningscentral". Jag är säker på att Lagrådet
som just har att vaka över att lagstiftningen
stämmer med grundlagen aldrig skulle gå med på
något sådant. Så kommer det heller inte att bli.
Det intrång som många uppfattar som
"massavlyssning" är att staten får tillgång till
teletrafiken. Men det innebär inte att allt kommer
att avlyssnas eller sparas för vidare bearbetning.
Det är riktigt att Lagrådet ansåg att ett intrång
föreligger redan genom att staten bereder sig
tillgång till teletrafiken. Men Lagrådet ansåg också
– trots detta - att en godtagbar balans nåtts
mellan enskildas grundlags- och
konventionsskyddade krav på skydd mot intrång i
privatlivet och det allmännas rätt och skyldighet
att svara för att för att nationella säkerhetsintressen
kan tillvaratas.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Tobbe J said...

Sholdn't it be Lex Orwell, "lex" being the Latin word for "law"? Or am I missing a joke here?

11:29 am  
Blogger Rasmus said...

Apparently, the blogger software has played me a trick and removed all three comments made to this post. In one, from Magnus Hammar, I was asked why I credited myself with "a wider and deeper understanding of the Swedish constitution than the Council on Legislation" (Lagrådet). In response to this I published a longer analysis on how Lex Orwell relate to the Swedish constitution as well as to the evolving caselaw of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights:


Thanks for your comment. It is correct that the Swedish Council of Legislation (Lagrådet), though not unanimously, approved Lex Orwell in early 2007.

Since then, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in a recent case “Liberty and Others v. The United Kingdom” (application number 58243/00) that any system of secret monitoring of communications must have minimum safeguards set out in statute law in order to avoid abuses of power. These safeguards have to include the nature of the offences which may give rise to an interception order, limits to the duration of surveillance, and a definition of the categories of people liable to surveillance. The court ruled that these safeguards apply both to measures of surveillance targeted against individuals and more generalised “strategic monitoring”. Since these safeguards were lacking in the case (just as they are in Lex Orwell) the court found the United Kingdom to be in violation of the rights provided under Article 8 of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

If this ruling had been available at the time the Swedish Council of Legislation had to review Lex Orwell, it is most likely that they would have found it to be in violation of the ECHR.

As for the Swedish constitution, many leading legal scholars (including the chairman of the Swedish Bar association, Anne Ramberg) were stunned when the Council of Legislation approved Lex Orwell. More specifically, it is possible to argue that the Council of Legislation did not pay sufficient attention to the role of the internet as an arena for public debate and the dissemination of opinions and ideas. While formation of opinions traditionally took place within a domestic context we today increasingly use global communications networks. Just think of yourself leaving this comment on my weblog, or joining a Facebook group or reading newspaper articles on international websites. All these activities will be fair game for the FRA if the law is implemented.

3:27 pm  
Blogger Rasmus said...

strange

3:27 pm  
Blogger Rasmus said...

Apparently, the blogger software has played me a trick and removed all three comments made to this post. In one, from Magnus Hammar, I was asked why I credited myself with "a wider and deeper understanding of the Swedish constitution than the Council on Legislation" (Lagrådet). In response to this I published a longer analysis on how Lex Orwell relates to the Swedish constitution as well as to the evolving caselaw of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights:


Thanks for your comment. It is correct that the Swedish Council of Legislation (Lagrådet), though not unanimously, approved Lex Orwell in early 2007.

Since then, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in a recent case “Liberty and Others v. The United Kingdom” (application number 58243/00) that any system of secret monitoring of communications must have minimum safeguards set out in statute law in order to avoid abuses of power. These safeguards have to include the nature of the offences which may give rise to an interception order, limits to the duration of surveillance, and a definition of the categories of people liable to surveillance. The court ruled that these safeguards apply both to measures of surveillance targeted against individuals and more generalised “strategic monitoring”. Since these safeguards were lacking in the case (just as they are in Lex Orwell) the court found the United Kingdom to be in violation of the rights provided under Article 8 of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

If this ruling had been available at the time the Swedish Council of Legislation had to review Lex Orwell, it is most likely that they would have found it to be in violation of the ECHR.

As for the Swedish constitution, many leading legal scholars (including the chairman of the Swedish Bar association, Anne Ramberg) were stunned when the Council of Legislation approved Lex Orwell. More specifically, it is possible to argue that the Council of Legislation did not pay sufficient attention to the role of the internet as an arena for public debate and the dissemination of opinions and ideas. While formation of opinions traditionally took place within a domestic context we today increasingly use global communications networks. Just think of yourself leaving this comment on my weblog, or joining a Facebook group or reading newspaper articles on international websites. All these activities will be fair game for the FRA if the law is implemented.

3:30 pm  

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