Starting from March 2020, Sweden’s police force will be able to deploy spyware on suspects’ devices in order to intercept encrypted communications.
Announced on Tuesday, October 22, Sweden’s Interior Minister Mikael Damberg announced that the spyware will also be able to activate the devices’ microphones, cameras, and exfiltrate any data deemed as necessary by the police.
Damberg explained that threat actors are utilising encrypted communication applications such as WhatsApp, Telegram or Signal, in order to hide their tracks and destroy evidence. He added that 90% of all the communications the police have intercepted were encrypted.
Similar to German authorities who began deploying the malware strain, named “Bundestrojaner”, as part of their investigations, the Swedish police will also deploy similar malware with spyware-like capabilities.
It is unclear as how to Swedish authorities will do this, however it is assumed that they will either create the malware themselves or buy it from contractors.
The new regulation will come into effect on March 1, 2020 and, the capabilities can be used if the crime that an individual is suspected of is punishable by at least four years of imprisonment.
Ilia Kolochenko, founder and CEO of ImmuniWeb commented:
“Given that interception of [now entirely encrypted] communications is pretty meaningless, this is a wise move from the Swedish government. Law enforcement agencies should have the full spectrum of modern and effective tools to investigate and prosecute crime. The decision is, however, not without potential drawbacks.
“Firstly, we need to ensure a transparent and fair process to prevent abuse of power by unscrupulous officials. In the past, cases in which cyber warfare was exploited for personal revenge were not uncommon.”
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