Protests sweep Sweden's email eavesdropping law

A public outcry against Sweden's eavesdropping law reached new heights with protesters sending more than one million e-mails to lawmakers, an Associated Press report said.

The law, narrowly passed by legislators two weeks ago, will let officials eavesdrop on all cross-border email and telephone traffic, in what technology companies have called the most far-reaching communications monitoring plan in Europe, the report said.

Sweden's government plans to implement it in January, it added.

Opponents say the law will encroach on privacy and jeopardize civil liberties. Supporters claim it is needed to fight international crime and terrorism.

The Associated Press report also quoted Parliamentary spokeswoman Christina Green saying that protesters had sent 1.1 million e-mails to lawmakers, after the Expressen tabloid launched an online campaign against the law.

The legislation gives Sweden's National Defense Radio Establishment the right to scan all phone calls, e-mails and faxes crossing Sweden's borders, without a court order.

Currently, email and phone surveillance in the Nordic country, known for openness and transparency, requires a court order if police suspect a crime. However, the intelligence agency is allowed to spy on airborne signals, such as radio and satellite traffic, without special permission.