Sunday 15 June 2008

Lex Orwell: Will the Swedish blog quake beat the government?

In the aftermath of 9/11, several countries were pressed hard by the United States to reinforce their security systems and augment laws on surveillance and counter-terrorism. This "securitisation" trend was evident even before 2001, but the pace with which civil rights are being sold out around the world by flashing the terrorist card has been astonishing.

This Wednesday, the Swedish parliament is voting on a bill proposing a law, named the Lex Orwell, that will make it possible for the government to monitor digital communication passing the national border. This means in effect, taking into account the fact that almost all communication in one or another stage passes the border, that the government will be able to read e-mails, text messages and listen to mobile phone calls from every citizen. For a summary in English and a European context, read this.

This law proposal has been the subject of a heated debate in the Swedish blogosphere for years, although traditional media has not picked up on the debate. Until now.

The government planned to take the law proposal through parliament when no one, it was assumed, would care about politics - in the upcoming week, when all eyes will be diverted towards the Euro 2008 football tournament, as well as enjoying the first hot Summer days of June. In that way, the bill would be accepted quietly and smooth, without a debate in the media.

For once, it actually seems as if the Swedish political blogosphere is going to make a difference in domestic politics. The campaign against the law proposal, spear-headed by liberal bloggers feeling that the Center-Right government is betraying liberalism's core views on private integrity, has grown to an anti-government blog quake in the past weeks. Thousands of blog posts, linking to each other, among other things made that the Swedish blog portal/billboard didn't show anything but Lex Orwell-related material for days.

Finally, traditional media cathced on (here as summarized in English in The Local). The government coalition parties' youth organisations are pressing "their" MPs to vote "No" on Wednesday. So are regular citizens. All the methods of viral political mobilisation are being used: YouTube videos, Facebook groups, massive text messaging - all encouraging liberal MPs to follow their convictions rather than the party whip and for citizens to call their MPs. The opposition parties are all against the bill, and all that it takes for the law proposal to fall is for four liberal MPs to go against their party lines.

The vote is on Wednesday morning, June 18, 2008. Is this the defining moment of viral politics in Sweden?

Oh, and here are some other blog posts, mostly in Swedish, debating the law:

blogge bloggelito, bloggen Bent, Thomas Tvivlaren, deep.edition, Johan Ronström, Henrik Alexandersson, Svensson, Drottningsylt, Erik Hultin, Mina Moderata Karameller, BetaAlfa, ProjO, Herr Klokbok, Felten fabulerar, andra sidan, I huvudet på Svenssons, Åsiktstorped, piratjanne, Seo-Sem, Ur Hjärtat, Nalles tankar från roten, Alter Ego, Christian Engström, Tantrablog,, Badlands Hyena, Den osynliga bloggen, Free and thinking, Det progressiva USA, Other blogs on the subject.

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