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Sweden passes monitoring law

Published: 12:44PM Thursday June 19, 2008 Source: Reuters

Sweden has passed a law allowing all cross-border internet and telephone traffic to be monitored, despite public protests and opposition from civil rights groups.

The law, announced on the parliamentary website, allows the military National Defence Radio Establishment to monitor Swedes' internet usage as well as content from e-mails, phone calls and text messages.

The bill was passed 143 to 138, Sweden's national news agency said.

Initially set to pass on Wednesday morning, the bill was sent back to the Defence Committee for modification after several government lawmakers indicated they would break ranks to defeat it unless it was altered to improve protection of citizens' rights.

The revised proposal provides for increased oversight from the Swedish Data Inspection Board, a public authority, and a new parliamentary committee. These two bodies will oversee monitoring activities by the authorities until 2011.

Currently, Swedish police can apply for permission to monitor phone and Internet traffic in the investigation of serious crimes. The new bill will allow the authorities to eavesdrop on conversations and communications by default.

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