Swedish Police Given More Leeway to Eavesdrop
The issue of law enforcement’s perceived power to eavesdrop on their suspects has come under fire in recent years. Many people feel that law enforcement should not have the power to eavesdrop and listen in on people as they go through their normal conversations on the phone. It’s a worldwide issue, and everyone is concerned about their own privacy. But in Sweden, parliament has decided to make it easier for law enforcement to eavesdrop on people.
The new law will official take hold on July 1st of this year. According to the new law, law enforcement officials, from police officers to federal agents, will be able to get all of the information they need about a person from their Internet Service Provider as long as the person is suspected of a crime. No warrant necessary. The Internet Service Provider, if asked by law enforcement, will have to provide the police with an address, phone number, and IP information.
This law is meant to make it easier for police officers to catch people suspected of file sharing. With an IP address, law enforcement will likely be able to monitor everyone’s internet activity. This law is an amendment to a previous law that stated a person had to be a suspect of a crime that would normally result in a prison sentence if convicted. Now, if a person only needs to be suspected of a crime that could result in a fine to be monitored by law enforcement through an Internet Service Provider.
“It’s a really good change which makes it possible for police to investigate copyright crimes that affect specific individuals,” Paul Pintér, the Swedish police’s national coordinator for intellectual property crimes, told the TT news agency.
According to Pintér, the new law will make it easier to protect individual copyright holders from having their works pirated or downloaded illegally.
In practice, most investigations into copyright infringements against individuals as well as reports of internet libel are dropped under current regulations.
However, Pintér doesn’t expect the new law will lead to a marked increase in the number of reported copyright infringement complaints.
“The complaints we receive today are almost exclusively from copyright holders and there is usually some substance in their complaints,” he said.
The new law also expands police powers to conduct secret wiretapping of electronic communications.
According to the new regulations, a decision to conduct secret wiretaps must be made by a court, but the new also includes a loophole for prosecutors themselves to make interim decisions in cases which are especially pressing.
In addition, police and customs officials will be allowed to make decisions about conducting surveillance for intelligence gathering.
It will also be possible for police and other law enforcement agencies to carry out surveillance even if there are no concrete suspicions against the person in question. Such general surveillance can only be carried out, however, if the suspected crime carries a minimum sentence of two years in prison and with a court-issued warrant. Police will also be able to require telecom operators to tell them where an individual’s telephone may be even if it’s not in use.