Swedes protest sweeping e-mail eavesdropping law

June 30, 2008 5:55:10 PM PDT
A public outcry against Sweden's eavesdropping law reached new heights Monday with protesters sending more than 1 million e-mails to lawmakers, parliamentary officials said.

The law, narrowly passed by legislators two weeks ago, will let officials eavesdrop on all cross-border e-mail and telephone traffic, in what technology companies have called the most far-reaching communications monitoring plan in Europe. Sweden's government plans to implement it in January.

Opponents say the law will encroach on privacy and jeopardize civil liberties. Supporters claim it is needed to fight international crime and terrorism.

Parliamentary spokeswoman Christina Green said protesters had sent 1.1 million e-mails to lawmakers by Monday afternoon, after the Expressen tabloid on Sunday launched an online campaign against the law.

The legislation gives Sweden's National Defense Radio Establishment the right to scan all phone calls, e-mails and faxes crossing Sweden's borders, without a court order.

Currently, e-mail and phone surveillance in the Nordic country, known for openness and transparency, requires a court order if police suspect a crime. However, the intelligence agency is allowed to spy on airborne signals, such as radio and satellite traffic, without special permission.