The FRA Act should be revised

For a long time, Sweden has acted in breach of the rules of the European Convention for Human Rights regarding the right to respect of privacy, as the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets radioanstalt – FRA) has used signals intelligence without it being regulated by Swedish legislation.

For that reason it is good news that there is now a will to legislate in this area. Unfortunately, the Bill (called the FRA law) will not improve people’s protection against surveillance misuse. On the contrary, it will result in the introduction of extensive surveillance which will not at all be in reasonable proportion to its purpose and the privacy protection that, according to international law, everyone is entitled to.

The view of the Swedish Helsinki Committee is that if the debated Bill about adapted defence intelligence production were to be passed, it would contradict Sweden’s commitments as regards the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN:s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Laws that allow the government to intrude into people’s private lives must be very clear and, as far as possible, predictable. Such laws must be specific enough that they indicate who may be subjected to covert surveillance.

According to the European Court of Human Rights, the requirement for specified legislation is applicable regardless if it is about privacy infringement for crime investigation or for security reasons, and regardless of the technology used.

According to the Swedish constitution, the Swedish Parliament must not pass laws that contradict Sweden’s commitments as regards the European Convention on Human Rights. The Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights is therefore hoping that the Bill will be reworked.

-    The lowest aspiration of the legislator has to be that people’s protection against the government misusing its right to monitor them is at least on par with international standards, but with Sweden being a forerunner in human rights issues, it shouldn’t be unreasonable to have higher expectations than that, says the Secretary General at the Swedish Helsinki Committee, Robert Hårdh.

The UN Human Rights Committee, the task of which is to monitor that the member states uphold the UN:s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has elaborated on what is meant by arbitrary interference in a general comment, where it is explained that arbitrariness not only should be interpreted as a demand for legislation but that it also is a qualitative demand on how such legislation is drafted.

Even according to the European Convention such a demand for legislation is a valid one. How such limiting legislation should be drafted was determined in Kruslin vs. France (1990).

Categories: News.
Tags: FRA Act, Right to Privacy, and Secret Surveillance.
Regions: Sweden.