Swedish Parliament Passes Controversial Surveillance Bill

NEW YORK - After rejecting a controversial surveillance bill Wednesday, the Swedish Parliament passed the measure the same day after officials made a revision to garner more support, ARS Technica reported.


The Parliament passed the revised bill with a 143-138 vote.


The bill allows Sweden's National Defense Radio Establishment to monitor phone calls, text messages, emails and Internet use without a court order.


Despite several small changes to the bill, critics are concerned about its implications, ARS Technica reported.


"Democracy has died in Sweden today," said an ARS Technica reader who alerted the online news source about the situation.


According to the government, the bill's function is to allow non-pervasive monitoring of communications that cross Sweden's borders. However, critics noted that the majority of Internet, email and phone traffic crosses the country's borders in some form.


Government officials maintain that more privacy protections were added to the bill before it was passed.


The bill, more than three years old, was abandoned by the government as excessively invasive. In October 2005, the Swedish Research Council said initiating such a vast surveillance web would infringe on citizens' privacy while providing little advantage to law enforcement agencies. The bill was revived in 2006 and passed an initial vote after a change in political leadership.