Norwegian jurists sue Sweden

Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 11:53 | Posted in internet, privacy, Sweden | 2 Comments
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The Norwegian Section of the International Comission of Jurists are preparing to sue Sweden in the European Court of Human Rights the Swedish paper Dagens Nyheter writes. The Norwegian jurists are concerned that the Swedish Law on Signals Intelligence in Defence Operations  (also known as Big Brother law) might offend the privacy of Norwegians. Much of Norway’s Internet traffic is routed through Sweden.

The law allows a government appointed agency to monitor electronic data traffic crossing Sweden’s borders. The same concerns have been echoed by netizens in other countries close to Sweden. A large part of web traffic in Finland and Estonia is routed through Sweden. Also, much of Russia’s traffic may pass Sweden as it is routed through Finland.

Whenever I access to my GMail account or make a Skype call chances are that I “travel” through Sweden. My message could at least theoretically be monitored by Swedish officials even if I send an email to my next door neighbor in Helsinki. The Finnish officials are (at least so far and legally) not entitled to do the same.

Belgium sues Sweden for Big Brother law

Sunday, June 22, 2008 at 5:38 | Posted in internet, privacy, Sweden, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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The Belgian Privacy Commission intends to sue Sweden in the European Court after Sweden adopted legislation allowing their military intelligence service FRA to monitor without explicite court order all phone and web communications passing the Swedish borders. Here is a Belgian TV news story about the Swedish legislation and the outrage it has prompted among Belgian privacy advocates (via projO).

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Finland’s largest e-mail service provider Sonera Finland moved in April 2008 the accounts of their Finnish customers back to Finland from the joined Sweden based servers of Telia-Sonera. “We decided to move Sonera’s e-mail services back to Finland in order to protect the privacy of our Finnish customers. After the migration, e-mails sent from one Finn to another will not cross Finland’s borders at any stage”, says Juha-Pekka Weckström, Senior Vice President of TeliaSonera Broadband Services Finland.

A major part of international calls and web connections in Finland and Estonia are routed through Sweden. While the Swedish legislation has passed almost unnoticed and undebated in Estonia, Finnish MP Jyrki Kasvi tabled a written parliamentary question to the Minister of Telecommunications asking what the government intend to do to protect the privacy of Finnish citizens, residents and businesses. The freshly adopted Swedish legislation provides the Swedish military intelligence a multitude of access to telecommunications of Finns and Estonians that the Finnish and Estonian intelligence agencies dare not even dream of.

Sweden’s Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge has a good post in English explaining the details of the Swedish Big Brother law.

Who is in charge in Sweden?

Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 14:52 | Posted in Sweden | 25 Comments

I wrote yesterday about a suburban Stockholm subway station being closed on evenings since Christmas Eve because the police and private security guard firms say they are unable to restore law and order at the station. Passengers and the subway personnel have been terrorized by youth gangs firing fireworks rockets into trains and even at people. My post received much more response than I would have expected.

Some of the comment authors seem to have missed my point. I was not primarily addressing the well known fact that the suburb of Rinkeby is populated by a large number of immigrants and Swedes with a low socio economic status. My most relevant point was that if the government surrender and fail to address the obvious chaos out there the situation is likely to get worse very soon.

Now that the Rinkeby station has been closed in the evenings and a further closing is being considered I am not surprised to learn that the gangs have moved to the nearby station of Tensta to continue their terror over there. Now the officials are considering to close that station as well. There is no word that the government would even have been discussing the option of enforcing the law and bringing life in these suburbs back to normal.

As former politician Johan Ingerö writes in his blog, this is an enormous victory for the criminal gangs. They have the power to close the transport services for thousands of citizens and they are not being held accountable for their actions. Klas joins my evaluation that the Swedish government is just as little in charge at the moment as the Zimbabwean government is in control over that country’s economy.

Some of the comments added to my previous post unfortunately have a racist undertone. The color of the skin of these hooligans is not an issue here. However, as one comment author points out, it is questionable if the police and the government would have been as indifferent about the events if similar events had taken place in a residential area populated by wealthy white people.

There is no doubt that Sweden has made serious mistakes in the past in their efforts to cope with immigrants. One of the most obvious mistakes is the heavily segregated housing policy in Stockholm and other cities. However, at this acute situation addressing the past mistakes is not the first priority.

What urgently needs to be done is restoring law and order and the normal life in the affected areas. The government need to show who is in charge. Is it the government or the mob?

Collapsing governments

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 at 17:25 | Posted in Sweden | 22 Comments
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It is not a big surprise that the Zimbabwean government has lost control of the country’s economy and is virtually at the brink of a collapse. The inflation rate is 8000 % and there is a shortage of cash which the government is trying to address by printing more banknotes (sic!). The result is too easy to guess: an accelerating inflation.

More surprisingly, I learn that the Swedish government is unable to guarantee public safety in a single suburban subway station in Stockholm. The subway station of Rinkeby is closed on evenings since Christmas Eve because the police and private security guard firms fail to cope with a bunch of youngsters terrorizing subway passengers with fireworks rockets. Can you take seriously a government which can not even establish control over a single subway station?

A nostalgic piece of music

Sunday, November 25, 2007 at 22:20 | Posted in Germany, History, literature, music, Nostalgy, Sweden | Leave a comment

During this weekend I have heard this nostalgic piece of music for several times. I even made an image composition of my own of it. Ladies and gentlemen, may I offer you the national anthem of former East Germany?

The book coverI did not do it just because I am having one of those particularly bizarre moods. It matches well with Jan Kallberg’s oven fresh book Så sänkte jag Sovjetunionen and is even recommended to be listened while reading the book.

I got my copy on Friday but I have so far only read about a quarter of the 700 page novel which deals with the historical collapse of the Soviet empire but is equally targeted at the Swedish society as it was during the decades of social democratic rule.

While I am certainly not going to express my definitive opinion about Jan’s book before finishing it, I can already say that it was quite a while since I had so fun reading a book. It keeps reminding me of what I had to live through while living in Sweden in early 1980’ies. I also did quite a bit of touring in the East European countries under communist rule during the three last decades of the Soviet empire.

I certainly hope this book is going to be translated at least into English, preferably also to Eastern European languages.

Swedish politician banned from Belarus

Saturday, October 13, 2007 at 7:46 | Posted in Belarus, Sweden | Leave a comment

Svenska Dagbladet writes that a Swedish local politician has been denied an entry visa to Belarus. Christian democrat councilman Jonas Hillerström in the town of Borlänge has been participating in a Belarus democracy project. He has visited Belarus on three occasions.

In September Mr. Hillerström appeared in a panel discussion about political activities of Belarus youth. The discussion took place in context of the book fair in Gothenburg.  Mr Hillerström made some critical points during the discussion.

The day after the discussion councilman Hillerström applied for a visa for another visit to Belarus. The application was turned down without any motivation whatsoever.

Smoking ban in own garden

Thursday, August 23, 2007 at 20:17 | Posted in odd, smoking, Sweden | 3 Comments

Sydsvenskan writes that a woman in southern Sweden has been banned to smoke in a large part her own garden by an interim ruling of the Environmental court. There is a summary in English on the bizarre case in The Local.

The woman’s neighbor, a lawyer, brought the case to the Environmental Court. In a separate lawsuite in a civil court he is seeking a damage compensation of 15.000 crowns (approximately 1600 €) and a punitive fine of 2000 crowns (213 €) for each cigarette the woman smokes in the restricted area. The lawyer says he is extremely sensitive of tobacco smoke and has to wear a face mask each time he leaves his house. According to the women, her neighbor is in the habit of wearing the mask regardless of whether she is smoking or not.

The Environmental Court sent two representatives to inspect the scene but the woman did not let them in saying that the procedure was a mockery. The plaintiff and his lawyer were nevertheless able to point from their side of the fence where the woman usually smokes in her garden. The inspectors spent 40 minutes in the lawyer’s garden taking detailed notes on the properties.

An air image embedded in Sydsvenskan’s article shows the lawyer’s property framed with blue and the smoking woman’s framed with red. Pending a final ruling, the Environmental Court issued an interim ban order forbiding her to smoke in the marked area at her property on both sides of her house.

I have some personal experience in persons claiming to be so sensitive of tobacco smoke that they frequently complain if somebody smokes in their vicinity, be it even in the open air. Not saying anything about this Swedish lawyer, whom I have never met, my experience is that most of the problems of this sort are rather mental than physical.

I have a hunch that a case like this would have been thrown out of the court in any country other than Sweden. In fact, I have information that it was about to be thrown out in Sweden as well until the plaintiff raised some issues of impartiality whereby one or more members of the panel were changed before the interim ruling.

Sydsvenskan wrote in March 2007 that the quarrel started soon after the lawyer moved in to the neighborhood in 2003. Many turns of correspondence took place until the lawyer decided to sue. The neighbors now only discuss through counsel.

Do-it-yourself crime investigation

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 at 3:09 | Posted in Alcohol, crime, social, Sweden | 1 Comment

The mother of a 14 year old in Southern Sweden was furious as her son came home heavily intoxicated, Dagens Nyhter writes. I guess every mother would be angry but not everybody would do what this mom did. She had her son call the person who had provided the booze and order another delivery. As the man arrived with the delivery, police officers entered from behind the corner and busted the dealer for illegal sales of alcoholic beverages.

The police in Lund say this was not a case of entrapment to commit a crime which is illegal in Sweden. The police deny any knowledge of the incident before the mother contacted them and say that the patrol was acting to stop a crime in progress. A senior officer described the mother’s action as a contribution by a “citizen investigator”.

This sort of citizen initiative is not uncommon in many places elsewhere but it is almost unprecedented in Sweden. Swedes are not eager to interfere if they witness a crime being committed and they also expect much of parenting to be performed by the society. I wonder if this do-it-yourself crime investigation is an isolated incident or a sign of a new attitude developing among Swedes.

Too fit to be legal

Monday, August 13, 2007 at 3:55 | Posted in odd, Sweden | 1 Comment

According to Svenska Dagbladet, a female police officer in central Stockholm thought that a man she met at late night could possibly not have acquired his very fit muscles without using illegal substances. The suspect denied any wrong doing saying that the muscles were a result of his hard training. The officer took him to a medical expertise whereby the tests returned negative.

The wrongful suspect subsequently filed a complaint against the officer but the prosecutor closed the case. Janne Magnusson, another officer at Stockholm’s narcotic police says he would have regarded a late night intervention under similar circumstances as “somewhat ambitious”.

Maybe the Swedish legislature should specify how fit a citizen is allowed to be to fit in the legal framework. On the other hand, the politicians could also specify the concept of reasonable suspicion and probable cause for search and arrest.

Too fat to be a father

Wednesday, August 8, 2007 at 7:16 | Posted in absurd, Sweden | 2 Comments

Jan and Mona-Lisa Karlsson in Tibro, Sweden have been denied an artificial fertilization. The local health officials say the father is too fat to be a parent. Mr. Karlsson is 168 centimeters high and weighs 85 kilograms. According to the officials, general health of both parents is regarded in their consideration.

To be consequent about it, weight regulations should also be imposed on men who wish to become fathers the old fashioned way. Why not legislate about a compulsory weight control before granting license to have sex?

Sweden considers to grant copyright lobbies access to IP information

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at 0:52 | Posted in copyright, internet, Legal, Sweden | Leave a comment

According to Dagens Nyheter, the Swedish Ministry of Justice on Monday released a legislative proposal which would allow copyright holders to seek information on IP addresses they suspect having violated their copyrights. The information would be granted by a court of law in a civil procedure, i.e. without involvement of the police or other law enforcing officials. The paper quotes Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask as saying that the police have more urgent things to do and she would prefer that the copyright holders defended their interests independently.

Many Swedish blogs are less than enthusiastic. Beta Alfa points out that the proposal would in practical terms grant law enforcing powers to copyright lobbyists. The blog goes on to say that private persons would have little or no chance to defend themselves in court against corporative copyright holders.

Saftblandaren notes that evaluation of evidence in copyright cases has not been quite objective during the present legislation that requires the police to be involved. The blog is concerned that many innocent people could fasten in the invisible surveillance webs if interested parties are granted the right to say what sort of Internet behavior is suspectable and the courts do not necessarily have sufficient technical qualifications to objectively evaluate the evidence presented to them.

I wrote last year about an inquiry by the Swedish chief justice ombudsman which concluded that courts had widely spread practices of granting old fashioned telephone surveillance warrants without the suspects being specified by the police. The new proposal raises concerns that courts may not have the competence of evaluating the probable cause of releasing IP information if they are unable to even fulfill the technically much more specific statutes in the existing legislation. This proposal risks to grant copyright lobbying organizations access to personal information irrelevant to defending their interests.

The Swedish Ministry of Justice is going to collect public statements on the proposal from interested parties. The proposed legislation is intended to take effect on 1st July 2008.

Swedish sports clubs cracked

Monday, July 9, 2007 at 7:01 | Posted in crime, internet, Sweden | Leave a comment
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According to Aftonbladet, a number of Swedish sports clubs and sports related web sites have been cracked during the weekend. Sites related to ice-hockey and football have been inserted the official looking warning by the criminal police saying that the site you are about to enter is suspected for spreading child pornography. The affected sites have nothing to do with child pornography.

Sites of Swedish ice-hockey clubs Hammarby and MoDo were attacked on Saturday. The warning was also posted on the site of Hammarby’s football division and the football portal Fotbolldirekt.com. The latter seems to be down as I type.

“This does not look very good for us either”, criminal police spokes person Linda Vidmark says to Aftonbladet. “We need to think out how to get about it”, Vidmark goes on to say.

via Saftblandaren

Ex Swedish PM ticketed

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 at 17:49 | Posted in crime, Environment, Legal, Politics, Sweden | Leave a comment

As I wrote for almost a year ago, then Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson was suspected for failing to compose a working environment plan for the building site of his house. Such a failure is prosecutable as crime according to Swedish law.

Svenska Dagbladet writes that the prosecutor’s office has issued a fine to the ex Prime Minister. He now has 10 days to decide whether he is going to accept the fine. He will face prosecution if he wants to contest the ticket.

Mr. Persson’s party lost the election last autumn, after which he also resigned as the leader of now oppositional social democrats. The crime suspicion was not an issue during the campaign.

Hands off Estonia, Moscow!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007 at 23:32 | Posted in Estonia, eu, russia, Sweden | Leave a comment

EU is finally reacting to the Russian interference in internal affairs of Estonia. Prompted by attacks against the Estonian embassy in Moscow and a serious attempt to assault the Estonian ambassador in Russia, Ms. Marina Kaljurand, the EU commission is raising concerns. According to the BBC:

Following the disturbances, the European Union said it would send a delegation to raise concerns with Russia over the increasing violence.

A European Commission spokeswoman said the EU “strongly urged” the Russian authorities to implement their obligations under the Vienna Convention for diplomatic relations.

Not only Estonian diplomats have been attacked. The Swedish ambassador’s car was attacked by a mob when ambassador Johan Molander was visiting the Estonian embassy. The violent acts against EU diplomats were reportedly committed by members of Kremlin backed youth organizations.

According to AFP, a Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in Stockholm:

“The ambassador’s car was stopped and attacked by a mob as he was leaving the Estonian embassy. They kicked the car and tore off the Swedish flag. The ambassador was not injured but the atmosphere was very aggressive,” ministry spokeswoman Sofia Karlberg told AFP.

State secretary for foreign affairs Frank Belfrage sent a “strong verbal protest” to the Russian embassy in Stockholm, and the Russian ambassador was been summoned to the ministry for a meeting later Wednesday.

The recent Russian attacks against Estonia must be regarded as attacks against the EU. The commission and other member countries must display solidarity to Estonia. Start behaving, Moscow! Hands off Estonia!

Edit: The Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht publishes a full English translation of a speach by Prime Minister Andrus Ansip in the Estonian Parliament on Wednesday. Another Estonian daily, Postimees, is not accessible from outside Estonia due to the Russian orchestrated cyber attacks against Estonian web sites.

Stop the World and let me out

Thursday, April 26, 2007 at 2:32 | Posted in smoking, Sweden | 2 Comments

A while ago I was complaining about having to travel on a train without a chance to smoke. I just learned that many municipal workers in Sweden have it worse than that: 19 Swedish councils have banned smoking during working hours. The council of Simrishamn has even prohibited taking snuff at work, including coffee breaks.

I know from my distant years in Sweden that everything in the country is by default forbidden which is not separately allowed but banning adults performing per se legal activities is definitely an over kill. According to health experts, intruding too deep into the privacy of the municipal workers is likely to cause tensions that are far more dangerous than smoking.

If this is the way the World is going to be changed, would somebody please stop it for a while so I could step out.

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