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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sweden legal group files challenge to wiretapping law with ECHR
Mike Rosen-Molina at 1:05 PM ET

[JURIST] A Swedish legal organization Monday filed a complaint [PDF text] with the European Court of Human Rights [official website], challenging a controversial warrantless wiretapping law [draft text, in Swedish] passed [JURIST report] by the Swedish parliament last month. The law gives Sweden's National Defence Radio Establishment [official website] broad authority to monitor international telephone and electronic communications passing through the country. The Centrum för Rättvisa (CFR) [advocacy website] argues that the law could violate the right to privacy enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text], noting that the ECHR has recently struck down [ECHR judgment, PDF] a similar UK eavesdropping law.

The Swedish law, which had been initially rejected by parliament [JURIST report], passed by a narrow 143-138 margin after last-minute changes made by lawmakers. The changes included a provision for independent oversight of the program, but critics say the law still does not do enough to protect privacy interests. Opposition party members say the program could also be used to intercept domestic communications [press release, in Swedish], and the International Federation of Journalists argued it could compromise source anonymity [press release]. Millions of Swedish citizens have filed electronic petitions [sample petitions, in Swedish; JURIST report] against the law, which will take effect in January 2009.

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