Sweden nears vote on e-mail, phone monitoring

STOCKHOLM – The battle for the hearts and minds of Swedish politicians is heating up. Next week the country’s parliament will vote on a bill that would allow local authorities to monitor e-mail, fax messages and telephone calls. The vote could be very close.

The bill, if passed, will let the Swedish Defense Radio Establishment, a civilian organization that falls under the Ministry of Defence, listen in on wired traffic that passes Swedish borders, to protect against what has been dubbed “external threats.”

On Wednesday, Stoppa FRA-lagen (which means stopping the law in Swedish) — a newly formed network of opponents — bought an ad in Dagens Nyheter (Daily News), Sweden’s largest daily newspaper. The ad warns that everything you do on the Internet will be monitored, and all phone calls will be monitored.

Stoppa FRA-lagen’s goal is to drum up public opinion against the bill, and sway the minds of at least a few members of the parliament from the ruling coalition, according to the group’s spokesman Mikael Nilsson.

Sweden’s parliament has 349 members from seven parties. The majority coalition in Parliament, which comprises several political parties, supports the bill. However, opposition parties oppose it. For the bill to pass, four members of that majority coalition would have to vote against the bill for it to fail.

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