Swedish Government grants police the use of spyware against violent crime suspects

Pierluigi Paganini October 24, 2019

The Sweden government is going to authorize the use of spyware on suspects’ devices to spy on their communications and track them. S

The Sweden government is going to authorize law enforcement agencies into using spyware to spy on suspects’ devices, the malicious code allows agents to read encrypted communications, to track their movements, exfiltrate data and spy on them via built-in microphone and camera.

The new powers granted to Sweden’s law enforcement agencies were announced by Sweden’s Interior Minister Mikael Damberg in a press conference on October 22.

During the press conference, the Minister of the Interior Damberg presented a 34-point program against violent crimes.

The program is the largest anti-gang crime package ever in Sweden that includes both short and long term measures, new powers and technical means for the authorities, and defines new penalties for violent crimes.

“34-point program: Today Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson, Minister of the Interior Mikael Damberg and the Environment Party’s Karelina Skog MP presented the government’s proposal for further measures against gang crime.” reads the official announcement.

The police are given the opportunity to read encrypted communications
. It aims to give the police the opportunity to better execute secret surveillance and for example also access the encrypted communication.”

Starting from March 1, 2020, the Police Authority, the Security Police, the Customs Administration and the Swedish Crime Agency will be granted extended powers with the proposal.

Criminal organizations leverage encrypted messaging services for their communications, for this reason the Government decided to authorize the use of surveillance spyware against suspects of violent crimes.

According to Damberg, almost any communication intercepted by the police for investigations in recent years have been encrypted.

“The police should now be able to use secret data reading in the fight against gang violence. From March next year, it will be legal to intercept encrypted calls in mobiles, computers and video calls.” reported the Swedish website Aftonbladet

“We give law enforcement agencies a very sharp weapon against gang crime” Mikael Damberg told to the journalists.

The Minister of the Interior added that the deployment of surveillance spyware will be only applied in case of serious crimes. 

Damberg explained that according to the Malmö Police, there has not been a single murder in Malmö in recent years that has not been preceded by encrypted communication between gang members.

Sweden isn’t the unique state to grant law enforcement the use of surveillance spyware, Earlier 2016, the German Interior Ministry approved the use of spyware developed by the German Federal Criminal Police, aka the ‘federal Trojan’ or Bundestrojaner, for the investigative purposes. The German authorities can use the federal Trojan under a court order, the spyware could be used in any investigation on individuals involved in a crime threatening citizens’ “life, limb or liberty.”

At the time it is not clear is the Swedish authorities have developed a surveillance malware or if they will buy it by surveillance firms.

Damberg also explained that Swedish police could also deploy hardware devices that could allow them to spy on encrypted communications.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – surveillance spyware, Sweden)

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