Sweden: Parliament passes data retention law-Infopolicy

March 25, 2012

In Grand Deceivefest, Swedish Parliament Just Voted For Data Retention

Rick Falkvinge

Falkvinge on Infopolicy: March 22, 2012



Swedish Parliament just voted 233-41 to introduce Data Retention in Sweden, as per the EU directive from 2004. Despite many countries having struck down the directive as utterly incompatible with human rights – all of those who have challenged it, in fact – the Swedish politicians persisted in deception to abolish our most basic rights to privacy, as well as lying through their teeth.

Data Retention, as implemented in Sweden, basically means that all your communications are logged so that the Police can check whom you have been talking to, when, how, and from where. That last part, “from where”, turns your mobile phone into a governmental tracking device that will essentially follow your movements in real time as well as historically.

This has been one of the most filthy, deceptive political campaigns to introduce a massive Big Brother law I have ever seen. Its only parallel is when the general wiretapping was introduced in 2008, and I’m pissed off as all hell. There have been attempts at deception of every conceivable kind.

Deceptions of cost. Proponents have been claiming that the European Commission will fine Sweden if we don’t introduce the Data Retention Directive, and that it would be an “irresponsible waste of taxpayer money” to not introduce it. This is mind-boggling argumentation, as it costs taxpayers many, many times more to implement the mechanisms of Data Retention that robs all citizens of their privacy.

Deceptions of effectiveness. Proponents claim that the massive erosion of privacy will be useful for “combating organized crime”; anybody who claims so is clinically and medically dumb. If I don’t want to be tracked, I can do that absolutely trivially – I can just stand outside any McDonald’s, Pressbyrån newskiosk, long-range bus, or any other facility with a free wi-fi and communicate there. Even without that, I can trivially make phonecalls that evade the data retention and internet connections that do. If I can do it, then of course organized crime can too. This hits the ordinary citizen, not organized crime. Additionally and honorably, one Swedish ISP – Bahnhof – has already said that it will circumvent the law’s intention while following it to the letter, giving the government no trackability of its customers whatsoever. (If my current ISP doesn’t adopt the same stance, I will switch in a heartbeat.)

Additionally, a Germany study concluded that the data retention had only helped on 0.002% of criminal cases. Yes, you read that right: zero point zero zero two per cent. In other words, hiring two new police officers is more effective for fighting crime than this abomination.

Deceptions and hypocrisy of human rights. Just last week, a person from a supposedly liberal party claimed that it is a human right to not inhale smoke at outdoor restaurants (about a possible extension of the ban on smoking). That same person will vote yes to tracking every citizen’s movement and registering all of their communications if the government wants to use it against them. That is just so hypocritical, I don’t know where to begin.

In Sweden, if you’re sentenced to a jail term of less than six months, you get the option of an electronic tracking collar, confining you to move in certain areas (work and home, essentially). Tracking somebody’s location is a violation of freedom equivalent to a jail term, in other words, in the eyes of the Swedish justice system. And this is what the policitians impose on the entire population.

Deceptions about the EU directive. There have been many attempts at handwashing by saying “The EU forces us to do this”. At the same time, the politicians are enacting a law that goes above the EU’s minimum levels of data retention. Further, the claim is nonsense to begin with: Sweden is a sovereign nation and if Sweden decides to not destroy the privacy of its own citizens, there is absolutely nothing the EU Commission can do about that. The EU can say “you owe us a fine”. Sweden has the freedom to ignore that statement. (Further, Sweden happily ignores other EU directives since our entry into the EU in 1995.)

In addition, there is a well-established process for challenging a directive, which the Swedish politicians have chosen not to use.

Deceptions of Sweden’s reputation. There has also been attempts at shaming Sweden as a nation from politicians, saying “all other EU member states have already done this; it’s only us who are late and it’s embarrassing!”. Plain outright lie. In reality, a full third of EU’s member states — nine out of 27 — have refused to implement it or has struck down its implementation as incompatible with human rights. That is an astounding embarrassment for the European Commission in such a high-profile directive, and yet, Swedish politicians keep lying about how Sweden is the only bad boy in class.

Deception of the journalistic corps. This kills reporters’ right obligation to protect their sources overnight. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that.

Our politicians have been standing on television and lying through their teeth about this!

You have Johan Linander (C), who has solemnly said “I am forced to vote yes and wash my hands”. What bullshit! The man is hired to press one of three buttons – yes, no, or abstain – and he refuses to take the responsibility the taxpayers pay him good money for!

There are even worse people. There is a party that used to be liberal, but now is the most repressive, regressive, 1950s-romantic party while still using the word “liberal” (and thereby causing real liberals to cringe). You have Johan Pehrson (FP), who goes “as a liberal, I want more powers to the police and less human rights. That is good for corporate profits and a richer Sweden”. This man is also known as “the lawnmower man” from his ridiculous argumentation about the copyright monopoly (he compares sharing knowledge to stealing lawnmowers).

As a final note, this derailment of the concept of human rights that is called traffic data retention was the direct trigger of the Swedish Pirate Party’s creation. Check for yourself: the directive was adopted in the European Parliament on December 14, 2005. The domain for the Pirate Party, piratpartiet.se, was silently registered on December 16 for the now-famous launch on January 1, 2006.

Now, we will defeat this abomination in the courts and in the polling stations. And you 233 spineless shameless invertebrates who voted yes today – not only are you not doing your job, but I will devote the next several years of my life to kicking you out of office. You have no place in any building of dignity.

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