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Sweden: Amended Law on Electronic Communications

(May 15, 2012) On May 10, 2012, the Riksdag (Sweden's parliament) adopted controversial amendments to the country's Electronic Communications Act, which regulates the monitoring of Internet and telephone activity by the police. While there was agreement among political parties on the necessity of the government's being able to conduct wiretaps in cases involving suspected crimes and sexual exploitation via the Internet, as well as Internet crime, there was heated debate over the potential use of the new law to hunt down individual file-sharers in order to crack down on minor Internet crimes. (Government Passes Law on Phone and Internet Surveillance, RADIO SWEDEN (May 11, 2012).) The amendments affect chapter 6 of the Act, on the processing of traffic data and protection of privacy. (Lag (2003:389) om elektronisk kommunikation (June 12, 2003, as amended by SFS [Svensk författningssamling] 2012:127), Swedish Parliament website.)

Reportedly, with the enactment of the amendments, as of July 1, 2012, law enforcement officials “may request to get access to subscription information, even for crimes that will only be punishable with a fine.” (U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Office (Stockholm), “New Law on Electronic Communications Passed (SR),” in State PAO: Swedish Media Reaction Report 11 May 12 (May 11, 2012), Open Source Center online subscription database, No. EUP20120511057003.) Under the amended law, the police would reportedly be able to secretly monitor individuals' Internet and phone activities even before such persons are suspected of commission of a crime. (Government Passes Law on Phone and Internet Surveillance, supra.)