tisdag, oktober 29, 2013

Contribution to European Parliament Report on mass surveillance - two clarifications

Today I read the report to the European Parliament on mass surveillance. I have contributed research to the report and really appreciate that I was allowed to do so. I find the report very useful and want to congratulate the team that the drafted the report.

Much of the section on Sweden was based on my research and there is a need for two clarifications. This report compares United Kingdom, Germany France, the Netherlands and Sweden. I only contributed with research in the form of previous publications and I answered a questionnaire. I did not draft the section on Sweden and I did not receive or review any drafts of that section before it was made public.

Clarification 1: The history of the FRA and Swedish signals intelligence
1. The report states on p. 58 that "Since five years, there have been reports of FRA accessing data traffic crossing its borders".

The indicated source is "N. Nielsen (2013), ‘EU asks for answers on UK snooping programme’, EU Observer, 26 June 2013.

This may create the impression that the FRA has only conducted surveillance since 2008.

Clarification: In the SOU (Swedish Government Official Reports) 2009:66 Signalspaning för polisiära ändamål (signals intelligence for law enforcement purposes), p. 55 it is stated that the police started with signals intelligence 1939. The Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) was established 1942 (its predecessor already in 1937). Professor Agrell has found documents in the archives of the Swedish state that show that the Swedish Government in a secret decision in 1948 obligated Telegrafstyrelsen (government-owned corporation, public enterprise, responsible for telecommunications) to transfer all telegram destined or from foreign embassies to the FRA. This power was gradually expanded in secret until 1991 when the Government out of fear of a potential public disclosure cancelled these powers ending FRA's access to cable communications. FRA could still intercept communication radio, satellite and microwave relay link which during the 1990s was enough for the needs of FRA. All of this was secret but it all became public in when the Government introduced legislation which was under debate 2007/2008. One of main purposes of the law was to grant the FRA access to cable communications which was perceived as necessary because most international communication went from satellite to fibre-optics.To sunmarize, the FRA and its predecessor has been monitoring communication since the late 1930s.

Media sources
2. The reports states that on p. 58 "In 2008 the TV broadcaster SVT reported that the FRA was collecting/receiving data from the Baltic states and forwarding in bulk to the USA, based on the testimony of a FRA whistleblower."

The indicated source is M. Klamberg, (2010), ‘FRA and the European Convention on Human Rights’, Nordic Yearbook of Law and Information Technology, Bergen 2010, pp. 96-134.

The problem is the following, it was probably a whistle-blower who revealed the FRA-NSA cooperation but I don't know.

I write the following on p. 121: "A TV news broadcaster (SVT’s programme Rapport) disclosed in June 2008 that the FRA indiscriminately collects traffic data, including data relating to communication from or
to Swedish citizens. The data is stored in the traffic database (Titan) for 18 months. The source of the information was a FRA employee who also disclosed a confidential document from a Q&A session held within the FRA supporting the claims made (henceforth the FRA Q&A document). The document discusses the scope of the collection and storage in the terms of “all available communication” and “large amounts of information”. The source for this news piece in June 2008 was a FRA whistle-blower.

The same journalists at SVT (and other media outlets) revealed in late august 2008 that that the FRA was collecting/receiving data from the Baltic states and forwarding in bulk to the USA. They did not explain who was the source. It appears as the report conflates the two related, but still separate stories in June and August into one.

These are minor details concerning the history of the FRA and media sources which does not affect the reliability of the report.

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