Swedish lawmakers have agreed to postpone plans for the passing into law of a controversial surveillance bill following an emotional debate in the Riksdag on Tuesday evening.
A year after the bill was first put on ice following pressure from the opposition, the government eventually agreed to take another look at the proposed legislation.
“First of all, the Swedish Data Inspection Board will be tasked with observing FRA’s activities from the perspective of the protection of civil liberties until the 2011 review,” Tolgfors told news agency TT.
The government would also request the appointment of an external committee to watch over FRA during the period until 2011.
To me, there are several interesting ingredients in this story:
- Sweden, acknowledged as one of the pioneering countries in the world when it comes to freedom of speech / expression, is to introduce a law that allows for the most extensive surveillance of citizens in the western world. And it iss going to be introduced by a "liberal" government.
- The individuals politicians in the government parties have been blackmailed by their parties to vote for this new law ("vote for this new law, or it will be the end of your career in politics"). All but three or possibly four of the almost two hundred politicians in the government were actually going to vote for the new law, even though it meant that many of them would act totally against their own beliefs and values. Now all but one have agreed to vote for a slightly modified law.
- The debate about the law started and was lead by the blogosphere. No discussion took place in the traditional "old" media until they finally understood that they had to take the blogosphere seriously and that the debate there was actually engaging people. They probably assumed that the subject wasn't of interest to people. Obviously it was, and still is.
The story and the non-predicted outcome shows that the blogosphere has become a power to count with, that it can make a difference in politics.However, the new surveillance law is not dead. It will most likely be approved today, Wednesday 18th of June, but in a slightly modified version. It is the same wolf, but now in sheep's clothing.