I thought given the wire-tapping excitement going on now, that I’d post some of the practices going on world-wide that maybe you are not aware of, all excepts from Virtual Shadows (2009), so there could be some updates since, I haven’t checked. If there are updates it will surely include social media as per USA with PRISM.

Many of the international laws on wiretapping date back to a series of seminars hosted by the FBI in the United States in 1993 at its research facility in Quantico, Virginia, called the International Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar (ILETS) together with representatives from Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and the EU. The product of these meetings was the adoption of an international standard called the International Requirements for Interception that possessed similar characteristics to CALEA from the United States. In 1995 the Council of the European Union approved a secret resolution adopting the ILETS. Following its adoption and without revealing the role of the FBI in developing the standard, many countries have adopted laws to this effect. Following adoption of the standard the European Union and the United States offered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for other countries to sign to commit to the standards. All participating countries were encouraged to adopt the standards so it was natural that international standards organisations, such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the European Telecommunication Standardization Institute (ETSI), would adopt the standards.

Adoption of wire-tapping laws
Australia was one of the first countries to sign the MoU along with Canada. In Australia the Telecommunications Act expects the telecommunications operators to proactively assist law enforcement by providing an interception capability.

In the UK RIPA requires that telecommunications operators maintain a ‘reasonable interception capability’ in their systems and be able to provide on notice certain ‘traffic data’.
In the Netherlands all ISPs have to have the capability to intercept all traffic with a court order and maintain users’ logs for three months.

In New Zealand the Telecommunications (Interception Capabilities) Act 2004 obliges telecommunications companies and ISPs to intercept phone calls and emails on the request of the police and security services.
In Switzerland ISPs are required to take all necessary measures to allow for the interception of mail and telecommunications.

In June 2008 Sweden’s parliament approved controversial new laws (FRA-lagen) allowing authorities to spy on cross-border email and telephone traffic. The Swedish press claim that this will make Sweden the most surveyed country in Europe. This wiretapping law enables the intelligence authorities to ‘listen’ to all traffic, Hotmail, MSN, SMS etc., across Sweden’s borders. The law becomes effective at the end of 2009. Given Sweden’s stance on human rights the passing of this law is quite remarkable. It was following some pretty heated dis- cussions in parliament that the law was passed on a very fine majority (47 against and 52 for). The argument for tapping of international lines is ‘terrorism’. Of course any ‘terrorists’ will encrypt their communications and there is nothing that the Swedish authorities can do about this. Of course one can always monitor ‘traffic patterns’ on identified suspect com- munication which can be as revealing as the communications’ contents themselves in certain situations. However the use of the contents of such communications in a court of law will be impossible without the decryption key and they cannot obtain this unless there is a law enacted similar to the RIPA in the UK, which forces the key-holder to give the encryption or decryption key to the authorities on request and if they refuse they can be convicted for concealing evidence.

There was also a telecommunications driven incentive in 2008 called Phorm. I have not checked out the present status in 2013.

The answer to who will end up paying for this law is simple, the Swedish consumer. The FRA is going to visit the government to ask them to make the ISPs take the charge, and then the cost is passed onto the broadband subscriber.

So this means that every online Swede will be paying to be monitored by Swedish Intelligence. Well you know, if you happen to be one of these Swedish resident you know that this will be for your own good and the country’s good, it doesn’t matter whether you are a terrorist or not!

You know there has been an awful lot of press going on here in Sweden following parliament’s approval of the controversial law on wire-tapping. Effectively the FRA-law makes Sweden the most surveyed country in western Europe. This wiretapping law enables the intelligence authorities here to ‘listen’ on all traffic -Hotmail, msn, sms, etc., across Sweden’s borders. The law becomes effective in 15 months, or this is when intelligence can start listening.

That this law has been passed is quite remarkable. It was following some pretty heated discussions in parliament and the final vote was 47 against with 53 for. The argument for tapping of international lines is ‘terrorism’. The problem is that government officials in general -it doesn’t matter which country this is- are easily influenced by the ‘fear’ of terrorism as heightened by media leading to some hysteria. They just don’t get it, you know that terrorists will just encrypt their communications, so the government will be wasting a whole load of tax payers money (and there is a lot in Sweden) on this pointless project.

Of course one can always monitor ‘traffic patterns’ which can be as revealing as the communications’ contents themselves in certain situations, but really when doing a mass analysis of data, one needs start with communications’ contents to create the needed rules, and to narrow down the scope to a realistic size that can be monitored effectively.

So they will be listening and reading ‘innocent’ traffic and be able to do traffic analysis on the encrypted traffic. I wonder how this is going to help the fight against terrorism? Then of course we can speculate on what comes next? After all the passing of one such law just opens the flood gates for a whole load more laws that invade our privacy. What about the blood bank they have on all newborns since 1976? This is offidically used for ‘research’ but on 1 occasion since used to convict a killer by his DNA, and then the law was modified to enable it to be used to identify victims of the Tsunami disaster. What will be next?

I would expect Swedish authorities to be a hot contender for the ‘Big Brother Awards’ for 2008 and 2009. Maybe they will win, such an honour to bestow on a country with such a long reputation for human rights.

This development I have been watching with interest for some time, and they finally did it Sweden’s parliament has approved controversial new laws allowing authorities to spy on cross-border e-mail and telephone traffic. An interesting development in Sweden of all places. Read more….