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Sweden on Thursday

'A powerful tool for the police.'


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RTP (Radsoft) — Sweden's parliament is expected on Thursday 20 February to give the country's law enforcement legal authority to use malware to break into mobile phones.

Swedish police will soon have the ability to legally break into mobile phones with malware. But this law proposal currently up before the parliament has met opposition.

Criminal Tool

Encryption has become a criminal tool, writes public service Sweden's Radio (SR). Their news service 'Eko' ('Echo') studied some thirty court rulings from last November to January this year and found the apps Wickr, WhatsApp, and Telegram were often involved.

Convicted criminals use these apps to plan their crimes, states public service SR. Crimes ranging from drug-related felonies to fraud to kidnapping. The police have not been able to access this traffic.

'This is a huge problem and it's growing all the time, it's impossible for us to figure out what they're saying to each other', says Jan Olsson, police inspector with the national operations unit.

Thursday

On Thursday Sweden's parliament is expected to give the police the green light to spy on suspects through the use of malware. Yet some people are sceptical. This new 'project' is expected to cost over $10 million per year.

'Our police lack IT-competence. I think we should start here instead', says Linda Snecker, spokesperson for the Leftist Party.



Intrusion in 'smart phones' should only be possible when there's suspicion of serious crime. But the target need not be a suspect.

The proposal is too extensive, says Mia Edwall Insulander, general secretary for the bar association.

'We have a right to privacy, to be spared from state control and spying. This law proposal violates that right.'

Minister of the interior Mikael Damberg insists the police need further capabilities.



'This would be a powerful tool for the police, and I'm totally convinced it would lead to more convictions.'

Reflections

  • Pressure was brought to bear on the country's PM last autumn after a number of horrific gangland killings shocked the nation. 'We didn't see it coming - that Sweden would turn out this way', said a stuttering PM in a nationally televised interview, and then mentioned something about getting into smartphones and breaking their encryption.

  • As Bill Binney showed with his ThinThread, it's the meta data that's important.

  • No indication's been given about how this 'legalised intrusion' will be implemented.

  • The current government, not exactly expected to rank highly in the pantheon of legendary governments, has a nasty habit of crafting law proposals that are universally rejected by the country's legal experts and then forcing them through anyway - to disastrous consequences.
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