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New Anti-Piracy Laws ‘Incredibly Upsetting’

Today it became clear that the government is moving forward with the controversial data storage directive. The draft law has been sent by the government for referral to the Legislative Council, which means that the Riksdag must approve the draft law before the law can be passed.

The data storage directive means that all telecom and internet operators in Sweden must store their customers’ traffic for six months. This means, among other things, that all e-mail, visited websites, text messages and phone calls will be stored.

In mid-October, Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask also told us that the government may adjust some of Sweden’s laws so that they are adapted to the controversial Acta agreement. The Acta (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is an international trade agreement developed by the United States and negotiated between a number of countries, including Australia, the EU, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Switzerland and Singapore.

According to the latest revision of the Acta agreement, the signatory countries undertake to adapt their laws so that, among other things, it becomes easier to combat piracy and illegal file sharing. The Acta agreement requires member states to introduce prison sentences for violations of copyright law as a deterrent.

Beatrice Ask’s revelation that the government plans to introduce changes to the law came after the Left Party’s Jens Holm submitted an interpellation in mid-October in which he demanded answers to the government’s handling of the Acta agreement.

PC för Alla contacted Jens Holm to find out how the negotiations actually went and to find out his view on the matter.

Jens Holm (v): “This has been handled badly”

Jens Holm is a party member for the Left Party and substitute in the business committee. Last month, Jens submitted an interpellation to the Ministry of Justice in which he questioned how the Acta agreement has been handled by the government.

PC for All has contacted Jens Holm and asked him how the government and the EU have treated the negotiations surrounding the Acta agreement.

According to documents leaked to Wikileaks, the Acta agreement was drawn up together with a number of private companies and organizations representing, among other things, the music and film industry. Does it appear anywhere what role these companies and organizations have had in the design of the agreement?

– On the first page of the Acta agreement, it says that you must cooperate with “service providers” and “rights holders”. Something that shows that they have a great influence. The whole basic idea of ​​Acta is to strengthen intellectual property rights and fight “brand counterfeiting”. Something that companies in the entertainment industry have been doing for too long. Now they are getting it.
– They will also have a large influence on the Acta committee that will be established. Beatrice Ask herself admitted in her speech that large American companies have had great influence during the negotiations.

Beatrice Ask mentions in her answer that the nutrition committee has given the government some room “to adjust laws”. Who oversees these adjustments?
– The members of the business committee have been charged with confidentiality/non-disclosure of the content of the deliberations, with the risk of imprisonment if it is breached. This is not how conventional legislation is supposed to work.

Does the latest version of the Acta agreement state what legal or police measures may be used to combat copyright infringement?
– There is still talk of criminal justice measures. Exact penalty scales do not yet exist as far as I know.

Is there a risk that laws have been “adjusted” in advance before the actual Acta agreement was presented?
– Yes, changes to the law must be made through an ordinary procedure, that is, the government drafts a bill which is prepared in committee and which the entire Riksdag can then decide on. The process must be open and transparent. It is exactly the opposite of what the Acta negotiations have been. The preparations in the Business Committee have rather been information points from the ministry with only ministry information, not a conventional treatment in openness.

How do you think this whole process has been handled by the EU and the Swedish government?
– Bad. It has been a long process of cover-up and disinformation from start to finish. As an elected official, I do not yet know what exact consequences Acta will have for Swedish legislation. It is extremely frustrating and upsetting. Sweden should freeze the negotiations and ensure that all parliaments are involved. Otherwise, you might as well drop the negotiations altogether.

What does the constitution say?

How do laws such as the Data Storage Directive and the FRA Act relate to Sweden’s constitution? PC För Alla contacted Mathias Säfsten at the Ministry of Justice’s constitutional unit to find out how it really is.

According to Sweden’s constitution (form of government, chapter 2, § 6), it says that Swedish citizens are protected against secret wiretapping. How is it that laws such as the FRA Act and the Data Retention Directive can be approved?

– There are basic provisions on the protection of human rights and freedoms specified in a number of provisions in ch. 2. the form of government. A number of the fundamental freedoms and rights are absolute. This means that they must not be restricted, says Mathias Säfsten.

As an example, he gives the prohibition against the death penalty and the prohibition against corporal punishment and torture (chapter 2, §§ 4 and 5). However, not all fundamental freedoms and rights are absolute. A number of freedoms and rights are relative in the sense that it is possible to limit them in different ways.

– Restrictions may be made in laws to meet purposes that are acceptable in a democratic society, provided that the restrictions do not go beyond what is necessary, says Mathias Säfsten.

However, the restrictions must not extend so far that they constitute a threat to the free formation of opinions. Nor may such restrictions be made solely on the basis of political, religious, cultural or other views.

With a new constitution having been voted through in the EU, which constitution now weighs more heavily, Sweden’s constitution or the EU’s?
– As a member of the EU, Sweden is covered by EU law, which means that laws established jointly in the EU generally take precedence over the national laws of the members.

EU law is therefore superior national law, but according to Swedish opinion there is a valve for certain special situations.
– If, for example, the European Parliament were to adopt a legal act where our courts do not think that the protection of freedom and rights is sufficient, we can therefore claim from a constitutional perspective that decision-making rights have not been transferred and that the national law must therefore apply, says Mathias Säfsten.

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