Monday, June 16, 2008

Big Brother Could Be Watching You After Wednesday

A huge vote with global implications takes place in the Swedish parliament on Wednesday. At issue: a law that would make it legal for the Swedish Defense Radio Establishment, a civilian organization under Sweden's Ministry of Defense, to monitor all wired traffic that crosses Swedish borders, including emails, text messages, faxes and phone calls.

Supporters of the law say it will prevent "external threats" to Sweden.

When I first heard about this vote, I got the chills and immediately thought about "1984," the classic novel by George Orwell, a nightmarish tale of what happens when Big Brother, the government, takes away privacy rights and individual thought and expression.

The Swedish blogosphere is exploding with opposition to this Wednesday's vote. With so much rumbling, some are calling it the "Swedish Blog Quake." Shortly after the law was proposed, a group of opponents set up a website to organize a campaign to fight the measure, Since its launch, the site has experienced roughly 100,000 hits a day. Last week, Stoppa FRA-lagen bought an advertisement in Sweden's largest daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, warning that all Internet activities and phone calls to and from Sweden will be monitored if the Swedish parliament passes the law. Outside of Sweden, bloggers say it's an uphill battle to get the word out about the vote because of a lack of (traditional) media attention to the issue.

As someone who values privacy and communicates with Swedes from outside of the Swedish borders on a daily basis, I can only hope that the opposition succeeds in defeating this measure. When I'm speaking with friends, family and business associates in Sweden, I don't need Big Brother listening in!

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