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Sweden parliament votes against controversial wiretap law

[JURIST] The Swedish parliament Tuesday rejected a proposed warrantless wiretap law [text, in Swedish] that would have given the National Defence Radio Establishment [official website] wide leeway to eavesdrop on international telephone and electronic communications passing through the country. The government said that the law was necessary for national security, but the measure was vigorously protested [Times Online report] by journalists, civil libertarians, and privacy advocates. The bill has been sent back to committee for redrafting; proponents said it would be amended to take privacy concerns into consideration. The Register has more.

Warrantless wiretaps have been an increasingly controversial topic, as officials struggle to balance civil liberties with security concerns. In February, a Canadian judge ruled [excerpts] that Section 184.4 of the Canadian Criminal Code [text], which allows law enforcement officers to electronically intercept private communications in "exceptional circumstances" without court authorization, is unconstitutional because it violates "the fundamental freedom to be free from unreasonable search and seizure" protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text]. In March, the US House of Representatives narrowly passed a controversial bill to amend the Foreign Intelligence Security Act [JURIST news archive] that would extend government power to eavesdrop on individuals within the United States under judicial oversight but not grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that had previously allowed the government to eavesdrop on their lines as part of its warrantless wiretapping program [JURIST news archive].

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