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World Briefing / SWEDEN

New law elicits '1984' comparisons

June 19, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

Sweden's parliament narrowly approved a law that gives authorities sweeping powers to eavesdrop on all e-mail and telephone traffic that crosses the nation's borders.

Critics have called the law an invasion of privacy and an infringement on civil liberties. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside parliament, some handing out copies of George Orwell's novel "1984," about a fictional futuristic police state.

Supporters argued that the law -- which takes effect in January -- will help prevent terrorist attacks.

It gives Swedish defense officials the right to scan international phone calls, e-mails and faxes for sensitive keywords without a court order.

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