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Centrum för rättvisa v. Sweden, No. 35252/08, ECtHR (Grand Chamber), 25 May 2021


Mass surveillance to prevent terrorism and other serious crimes. National security. Privacy and data protection.

Normative references

Art. 8 ECHR


1. In the light of the proliferation of the threats to national security and of the wide use of the Internet made by terrorists, states must enjoy a high margin of appreciation in deciding how to better protect their citizens' security. Therefore, the choice to set up a surveillance regime, intercepting Internet communication, is not per se contrary to art. 8 ECHR. 

2. Nevertheless, in framing their surveillance regime, states cannot escape basic guarantees related to the principle of proportionality. For instance, bulk interception must be subject to independent authorization at the outset; the object and scope of the operation must be well defined; the operation must be subject to supervision and independent ex post facto review. 

3. The Swedish surveillance regime does not fully comply with the abovementioned requirements. In particular, there are three flaws. First, there are no clear rules regarding the destruction of intercepted material; second, there is no rule imposing that, when intercepted material is shared with foreign intelligence, private and family life should be balanced against opposite national security interests; third, there is a lack of effective a posteriori review.