We urge EU to act against Sweden’s illegal data retention!

Sweden is now acting against telecom and internet carriers that do follow EU law on traffic data retention.

Law-abiding companies are faced with fines. Ultimately their existence could be threatened although they do nothing wrong.

5th of July Foundation, together with Bahnhof, the well-known Swedish “free-speech” network operator now urges the EU Commission to investigate and take action against their member state Sweden.

Details are found in the press release below. Here is information in Swedish.

Internet profiles reporting Swedish failure to comply with EU Court ruling on Data Retention, calling on EU Commission to take urgent action

Today Bahnhof, the renowned Swedish network operator and internet carrier joins forces with 5th of July Foundation to urge the EU Commission to initiate proceedings against the Kingdom of Sweden for blatantly ignoring the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union on April 8, 2014, which declared the Data Retention Directive invalid. Sweden now fails to fulfil its obligations according to The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, articles 7 and 8, ‘Respect for private and family life’ and ‘Protection of personal data’.

Telecom and Internet carriers that do protect those EU rights now find themselves having conditional fines imposed upon them by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority. If they persist they face enforced closure.

– We will fight in Swedish courts to the end but this is not about Bahnhof and our rights. It is about every citizen’s human rights. Bahnhof has always stood up for privacy of communications. We do not intend to retain traffic data about our customers and we are confident that we have the backing of the EU Charter and Court of Justice. We urge the EU Commission to swiftly investigate.

– This is not only a domestic issue, says Oscar Swartz, Chairman of 5th of July Foundation. Every person who visits Sweden and uses a smartphone and every person who communicates with someone in Sweden is illegally registered right now. This is why we ask EU to act.

Sweden was the most active country in pushing through the Data Retention Directive and most virulent when it came to demanding control over every person’s use of the internet. Sweden’s Minister for Justice, Social Democrat Thomas Bodström, required that every URL and website that people visited should be stored, as well as all peer-to-peer communication like chatting and file-sharing, but his hawkish line was supported by very few other member states.

Sweden’s current Minister for Justice, Beatrice Ask of the Moderate Party, was one of his foremost critics.

– Yet Ms. Ask turned 180 degrees and made it possible for authorities to use retained data for every petty offence there is. This is a gross violation of the purpose of the Directive, which concerns the fight against serious crime. This point was struck down by the EU Court of Justice, explains Jon Karlung.

The formal action of reporting Sweden to the EU Commission comes after a long row of measures that threaten citizens’ privacy, security and liberty on the Internet. In 2008 the current government let FRA (Sweden’s NSA) tap into all internet traffic going in and out of Sweden. Recently the Swedish Security Service (Säpo) has requested “voluntary” participation of network operators in a program, granting direct access to their equipment. Bahnhof has steadfastly refused any such intrusion and instead published recordings of officials making these demands.

– We at 5th of July Foundation wish to empower the public, so today we launch a free chat service, a jabber server which supports easy OTR encryption, one of the few ways of communicating securely that Edward Snowden recommends. We are happy to be able to use Bahnhof’s network for this, https://5july.org/jabber/


Bahnhof was founded in 1994 and is Sweden’s oldest and one of the largest independent national Internet providers. Bahnhof hosted WikiLeaks. https://bahnhof.net


5July Professor: Nobel Peace Prize to Snowden

Yesterday, our resident blogger HAX demanded Sanctuary for Snowden! He also noted that Aftenposten, Norway’s leading newspaper, in a powerful editorial urged the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award Edward Snowden the Peace Prize this year. They published their editorial in English.

To be chosen, Snowden must first be nominated. Well, we made sure he is!

The Board of 5th of July Foundation considered Edward Snowden to be an outstanding choice for Nobel’s Peace Prize. Of course the foundation does not have the right to nominate candidates. But one of our board members have. Love Ekenberg is Professor and Head of the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences within the Faculty of Social Sciences at Stockholm University and belongs to one of the eligible categories.

Professor Ekenberg wrote a Nomination Letter that the 5th of July Foundation do fully support. Stockholm University published the letter in Swedish. Below you find it in English.

In fact, at least eight nominations have been made public and there are potentially many more. Ekenberg submitted the nomination on January 28, 2014, thus well within the deadline. Stockholm University announced it on February 5. Our blogger HAX was even himself involved in another nomination – as the assistant to Member of European Parliament Christian Engström, one of five signatories of a nomination letter from the Pirate Party.

The nomination letter from Professor Love Ekenberg in English for the first time:

I hereby nominate Edward Joseph Snowden to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2014

A foundation for freedom of opinion and democracy is that people privately and without reprisals from exsisting powers can communicate with each other, exchange ideas, experiences and opinions. Rights to confidential communications are therefore classified as basic human rights and are enshrined in constitutions, laws and international declarations.

Edward Snowden’s leaking of documents has shown that general surveillance by e.g. NSA stretches further than few could imagine. Snowden has stated that “…they are intent on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them. “

We should remind ourselves of a citation normally attributed to Cardinal Richelieu, the champion of the Absolute Monarchy in 17th century France: “Qu’on me donne six lignes de la main du plus honnête homme, j’y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre” (“Show me six lines written by the most honest man in the world, and I will find enough therein to hang him”).

The documents have shown that unfettered intelligence organizations from various nations do exchange information in a way that risks making every citizen a target. Edward Snowden: “I believe that at this point in history, the greatest danger to our freedom and way of life comes from the reasonable fear of omniscient State powers kept in check by nothing more than policy documents.”

It was hardly such cooperation between state powers that Alfred Nobel referred to when he wished to award the Peace Prize to those who “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations.” Snowden’s disclosures now provide all of us with an opportunity to build such fraternity – citizen to citizen of different nationalities.

Fully aware that he would be a hunted man for the rest of his life did Edward Snowden leave a highly paid position and an excellent career, a house in Hawaii, a girlfriend, and family, in order to do what he considered right and that now benefits us all. He has shown extraordinary personal courage.

The Nobel Committee can make a major contribution by rewarding Snowden with the Nobel Peace Prize. It may give others the courage to come forward and become whistle blowers when they see abuse of power that is unknown to the public and that undermines the democratic foundations and human rights.

 “Everyone everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten — and they’re talking about it. They have the power to decide for themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice their privacy to the surveillance state.” (Edward Joseph Snowden)

Love Ekenberg, Professor and Head of Department of Computer and System Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm University



Fan photo of 5J-blogger HAX in Berlin

Berlin – Sunday, July 6, 2014 – 5J-blogger Henrik “HAX” Alexandersson just after his latest posting on HAX.5July.org. He wrote a piece about how payment providers are curtailing privacy, security and liberty on the Internet, through refusing clients like Wikileaks, VPN providers and so forth. Protonmail is a new and tragic case, showing where we are heading. Read How to kill free information and privacy by stealth by HAX and what one can do!

We even found a t-shirt of the right size for our impressive blogger. Look into our shop to get one!

Henrik "HAX" Alexandersson, blogger for 5th of July Foundation. Photographed by Karl Andersson in Berlin on 6th of July 2014. CC BY-SA 3.0.

Henrik “HAX” Alexandersson, resident blogger at 5th of July Foundation. Photographed by Karl Andersson in Berlin on 6th of July 2014. CC BY-SA 3.0. Click the image for a larger version.


Letting HAX “unfuck the internet”

5th of July Foundation is proud to present a passionate and disobedient civil rights activist and critic. 

From today, 5th of July 2014, we are happy to offer Henrik “HAX” Alexandersson a platform to spread his mission and insights to an international audience, in English.

HAX has five years of full-time work behind him for the Swedish Pirate Party MEP (Member of European Parliament) Christian Engström in Brussels and Strasbourg. June 30 was his last day, since The Pirate Party was voted out.

During these years HAX worked almost exclusively with the questions that 5th of July Foundation burns for: A free and open Internet. And he was an avid blogger – in Swedish.

We now invite the world to follow HAX. He is able to present himself better than we. He is never shy and always fun to read:

So, Let’s Unfuck the Internet! as HAX himself so eloquently formulates his mission.

Oscar Swartz, Chairman 5th of July Foundation

Let's Unfuck the Internet!


To cloud or not cloud?

After the NSA revelations many of us wonder whether cloud services are advisable. Do we wish to entrust a third party with our private and corporate data?

The big corporations provide smooth services, no question about that. Syncing data via Apple’s iCloud means that, well, that data is stored with Apple. Of course all these giants tell us that they do nothing outside what law requires from them. But admittedly “law” can include secret executive orders from authorities.

Long before the NSA revelations it turned out that Dropbox did have the keys to decrypt data that users had uploaded to them, using their encryption service. This was not clear at all from their user terms. Read this Wired story about this instructive case.

Swedish public intellectual Rasmus Fleischer, a founder of and activist in the now defunct “the Pirate Bureau”, just published a book (in Swedish) with “net-political” musings. He claims that we become less free when we hand over physical control over information: “To store files on a hard-disk starts to appear like having money on the bank – nothing for the broad masses …”.

At 5th of July Foundation we believe that it has become more important to consider who is behind different services, what is their track record, where are servers located, in what jurisdiction and so forth.

 Based in sweden logotype 200px 

One initiative was taken by Swedish ISP Bahnhof (whose main owners stands behind this foundation): A “Based in Sweden” seal for certain service providers. Info In English.


Laptop data belongs to the state, no?

The U.S. government regularly seizes laptops, smart phones, tablets, when people enter the country. They don’t have to suspect a crime. Copying the information on electronic devices and look into people’s whole lives are seen as equivalent to opening a suitcase and go through some clothing. This “border search” happens both to American citizens and visitors. We have seen it used against dissidents and critics. Jacob Appelbaum is a well-known case.

On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2013, this principle was upheld once again in court. ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union, tried to challenge the doctrine but the court did not agree.

Here is a report about the case when it was filed some years ago, less than two minutes of informative video:

The “border” has been interpreted to stretch 100 miles into the country from the borders, making up a “constitution free zone” according to some interpretations.

EFF, Electronic Frontier Foundation, has even published Defending Privacy at the U.S. Border: A Guide for Travelers Carrying Digital Devices.

One of their advice is to simple not carry the most sensitive data on a laptop into the U.S. It may be financial records, business negotiations, very personal items, whatever. If one needs this data, EFF recommends leaving it at home and download it in secure manners once inside the U.S.. One could e.g. use a VPN tunnel out from the U.S., transporting the information in an encrypted way “under the border”. OpenVPN should be safe, even if NSA is more competent than previously thought.


Snowden setting the stage for 2014

5th of July Foundation recommends watching – or listening to – Edward Snowden’s Alternative Christmas Message, delivered on Britain’s Channel 4. It is meant as an alternative to the Queen’s speech. His message is short, not even two minutes long, so don’t hesitate!

Channel 4’s own original video is found here, but it is only available for one month. There are numerous other sources however, just search the web. This is from the YouTube channel of AP, Associated Press:

We started talking about the 5th of July Foundation in 2012 after a resolution was passed in the United Nations that stated that freedom of expression must be as well protected on the Internet as outside. We found it hypocritical since two major forces behind the resolution was Sweden and the U.S., nations that were known to intercept and scan (at least!) virtually all Internet traffic that passed the borders of the country, before storing and analysing huge amounts of that data.

In Februray 2013 we signed the founding documents of the 5th of July Foundation. Little did we know that a certain Edward Snowden had already struck up secret conversations with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras (who also filmed Snowden’s message above). In June 2013 The Guardian published the first documents from Snowden’s leak.

At the same time we launched a VPN service, Integrity.st (so far only sold via Swedish “free speech ISP” Bahnhof, but getting closer to a more public release). 

As Internet veterans, entrepreneurs, activists and thinkers we knew a lot about surveillance of communications. But the extent shown by Snowden’s leak was unexpected.

We have lingered behind the scenes so far but will be more public from now. We will launch both “for pay” and free services for the public that enhances Security, Privacy and Liberty on the Internet. Services from a trustable source. Such are needed. 

It is 2014. Stay tuned!


10.000 High-Security Smart Phones

The world’s largest computer expo is going on in Hannover, Germany: CeBIT 2013. German’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was given a tour at the opening and proudly displayed a new smart phone that will be ready for her use in mid 2013. The quirk? The phone is wire-tap protected: Both speech and data are to be encrypted and stored according to the highest security standards. She will be able to choose from a modified Samsung or Blackberry.

Not only she. Supposedly 10 000 such phones are to be delivered to employees in German administration at a price of 2 500 Euro per piece. Yes, of course those who run the state must be able to communicate in a safe way. This is true for a lot of employees in corporations also. A lot of confidential business data is transmitted via smart phones. And so is a lot of other personal data between ordinary citizens.

At 5th of July Foundation we believe everyone deserves a high-security smart phone, just like Angela Merkel. Maybe that will not happen, but in fact anyone can achieve a higher security via a smart choice of trusted services.

From Pcwelt.de and Arcor.de (in German)