Swedish intelligence gets go signal to spy on emails

Sweden's government presented a contentious plan to allow a defense intelligence agency to monitor email traffic and phone calls crossing the nation's borders without a court order, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the government insists only a fraction of the electronic communication will be affected, but critics worry that the program, designed to combat terrorism and other threats to national security, is too far-reaching.

Their concerns resemble criticism of a US surveillance program launched in 2001 that monitors international phone calls and emails to or from the US involving people suspected by the government of having terrorist links, the report said.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the National Security Agency last year on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers who say the surveillance has made it difficult for them to do their jobs because they believe many of their overseas contacts are likely targets, the report added.

The Swedish proposal, which needs parliamentary approval, would give the National Defence Radio Establishment the green light to use so-called data mining software to search for sensitive keywords in all phone and email communication passing through cables or wires across the country's borders, the report said.

European governments have gradually been expanding their surveillance powers, wiretapping rules and police search powers as part of efforts to unravel terror plots.

But the Swedish proposal is among the most far-reaching when it comes to intercepting email traffic, the report further said.