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Sweden wiretapping law opposed by millions of petitioners

[JURIST] Millions of Swedish citizens have filed electronic petitions [sample petitions, in Swedish] against the country's newly approved electronic wiretapping law [draft text, in Swedish], according to news reports Wednesday. The law was narrowly approved [JURIST report] earlier this month and gives the country's National Defence Radio Establishment [official website] broad authority to monitor international telephone and electronic communications passing through the country. Upon passage, opponents warned that the bill could also be used to intercept domestic communications [press release, in Swedish], and more recently one business leader said that it may drive high-tech companies out of the country [Local report]. The new law is scheduled to take effect in January 2009. AP has more. Expressen has local coverage.

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 US 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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