Swedish spy agency sics lawyers on wiretap critic

Whose free speech is it anyway?


Swedish spy authorities have taken legal action against a Brussels-based blogger who published a classified document purporting to prove they snooped on individual Swedes more than a decade ago.

The country's National Defence Radio Establishment, which in Swedish translates into the acronym FRA, filed a complaint against Henrik Alexandersson. The blogger is a fierce critic of a Swedish snoop law that permits authorities to tap all communications that travel across Swedish borders and to turn over intercepted messages with international security agencies.

Last week, he published a document that documented communications between Swedish and Russian businesses in 1996. It included several Russian fax numbers that were used to carry the communications. The blogger claims the FRA intercepted the information by monitoring the lines.

In a complaint filed with Sweden's chancellor of Justice, the FRA calls the post a "crime against freedom of speech." The agency also vehemently denies it monitored cables.

It seems that at least a few people inside Sweden's government aren't happy with the the FRA's new powers either, and lately, they've taken to turning over classified documents to Alexandersson purporting to show abuses.

Alexandersson has posted other confidential documents that cast the FRA in an unfavorable light. One contained a list of 103 Swedish citizens registered and monitored by the FRA, purportedly for the sole reason that they happened to be in Russia.

The FRA's complaint is the latest salvo fired in the controversy over Sweden's new wiretap law. As we've pointed out before, the law is so broad that it is likely to snare communications between parties with no tie at all to the country as long as it makes a hop somewhere in Sweden (for example, an email sent from a BT address in London to someone in Finland). Some critics have compared it to the environment depicted in George Orwell's 1984.

More details are available here and here.

Update

According to blogger Wille Faler here, Swedish authorities are having second thoughts about pursuing Alexandersson following a very public and very acrimonious backlash. Faler says the uproar has spurred many bloggers to republish the confidential document, paradoxically causing the FRA's attempts to squelch the report to only give it more publicity. The phenomenon has come to be known as the "Streisand effect," after attempts by the singer to suppress pictures of her beach-front property generated so much interest they eventually wound up on the net.

Here's how Faler puts it:

After well founded rumours from police sources of an arrest warrant out for mr. Alexandersson, the authorities seem to have backed off for the moment, as they saw the Streisand effect come into full swing - the attempts to censor and silence critics by thinly veiled threats of legal action backfired royally, at this time, by my own count, at least 40 other bloggers have copied the classified documents in question and republished them.

®

Similar topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Five Eyes alliance’s top cop says techies are the future of law enforcement
    Crims have weaponized tech and certain States let them launder the proceeds

    Australian Federal Police (AFP) commissioner Reece Kershaw has accused un-named nations of helping organized criminals to use technology to commit and launder the proceeds of crime, and called for international collaboration to developer technologies that counter the threats that behaviour creates.

    Kershaw’s remarks were made at a meeting of the Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group (FELEG), the forum in which members of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing pact – Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the USA – discuss policing and related matters. Kershaw is the current chair of FELEG.

    “Criminals have weaponized technology and have become ruthlessly efficient at finding victims,” Kerhsaw told the group, before adding : “State actors and citizens from some nations are using our countries at the expense of our sovereignty and economies.”

    Continue reading
  • China reveals its top five sources of online fraud
    'Brushing' tops the list, as quantity of forbidden content continue to rise

    China’s Ministry of Public Security has revealed the five most prevalent types of fraud perpetrated online or by phone.

    The e-commerce scam known as “brushing” topped the list and accounted for around a third of all internet fraud activity in China. Brushing sees victims lured into making payment for goods that may not be delivered, or are only delivered after buyers are asked to perform several other online tasks that may include downloading dodgy apps and/or establishing e-commerce profiles. Victims can find themselves being asked to pay more than the original price for goods, or denied promised rebates.

    Brushing has also seen e-commerce providers send victims small items they never ordered, using profiles victims did not create or control. Dodgy vendors use that tactic to then write themselves glowing product reviews that increase their visibility on marketplace platforms.

    Continue reading
  • Another ex-eBay exec admits cyberstalking web souk critics
    David Harville is seventh to cop to harassment campaign

    David Harville, eBay's former director of global resiliency, pleaded guilty this week to five felony counts of participating in a plan to harass and intimidate journalists who were critical of the online auction business.

    Harville is the last of seven former eBay employees/contractors charged by the US Justice Department to have admitted participating in a 2019 cyberstalking campaign to silence Ina and David Steiner, who publish the web newsletter and website EcommerceBytes.

    Former eBay employees/contractors Philip Cooke, Brian Gilbert, Stephanie Popp, Veronica Zea, and Stephanie Stockwell previously pleaded guilty. Cooke last July was sentenced to 18 months behind bars. Gilbert, Popp, Zea and Stockwell are currently awaiting sentencing.

    Continue reading
  • Yale finance director stole $40m in computers to resell on the sly
    Ill-gotten gains bankrolled swish life of flash cars and real estate

    A now-former finance director stole tablet computers and other equipment worth $40 million from the Yale University School of Medicine, and resold them for a profit.

    Jamie Petrone, 42, on Monday pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return, crimes related to the theft of thousands of electronic devices from her former employer. As director of finance and administration in the Department of Emergency Medicine, Petrone, of Lithia Springs, Georgia, was able to purchase products for her organization without approval if the each order total was less than $10,000.

    She abused her position by, for example, repeatedly ordering Apple iPads and Microsoft Surface Pro tablets only to ship them to New York and into the hands of a business listed as ThinkingMac LLC. Money made by this outfit from reselling the redirected equipment was then wired to Maziv Entertainment LLC, a now-defunct company traced back to Petrone and her husband, according to prosecutors in Connecticut [PDF].

    Continue reading
  • Cybercrooks target students with fake job opportunities
    Legit employers don't normally send a check before you've started – or ask you to send money to a Bitcoin address

    Scammers appear to be targeting university students looking to kickstart their careers, according to research from cybersecurity biz Proofpoint.

    From the department of "if it's too good to be true, it probably is" comes a study in which Proofpoint staffers responded to enticement emails to see what would happen.

    This particular threat comes in the wake of COVID-19, with people open to working from home and so perhaps more susceptible. "Threat actors use the promise of easy money working from home to collect personal data, steal money, or convince victims to unwillingly participate in illegal activities, such as money laundering," the researchers said.

    Continue reading
  • Heart attack victim 'saved' by defibrillator delivery drone*
    * And a passerby who happened to be a doctor

    An autonomous drone carrying a defibrillator helped save a 71-year-old man having a heart attack, a first in medical history, a Swedish search-and-rescue tech company has claimed.

    We're told the old boy was clearing snow from his driveway in Trollhättan, Sweden, on the morning of December 9 before he was struck by crippling pains in his chest. A doctor just happened to be driving by on his way to work, saw what was happening, stopped, got out, and told an onlooker to call the emergency services while he performed CPR on the unnamed heart-attack victim.

    Apparently, it took just over three minutes for a drone, built and operated by Askim-based Everdrone, to be dispatched and arrive carrying an automated external defibrillator (AED). The doctor, named as Mustafa Ali by Everdrone, used the equipment to keep the guy alive at least until an ambulance arrived. The victim is said to have fully recovered in hospital.

    Continue reading
  • IT technician jailed for wiping school's and pupils' devices
    Court told he'd acted from 'spite and revenge' due to grudge over sacking

    A former school IT technician who wiped his ex-employer's network but also the devices of children connected to it at the time has been sentenced – after telling a judge he was seeking a new career in cybersecurity.

    Adam Georgeson, 29, went on the digital rampage after being dismissed by Welland Park Academy in Leicestershire, England, last January. He wiped 125 devices "including those belonging to 39 families", according to the Leicester Mercury.

    The IT professional, of Robin Lane, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, pleaded guilty to two crimes under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 last year.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022