As part of its counter-terrorism efforts the Swedish Intelligence Service (Säpo) has put a request to the Swedish Data Protection Authority asking for permission to register people sympathising with terrorism groups ”such as the Islamic State (IS),” reports the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. According to Säpo there is a growing network of terrorism-related extremists in Sweden, and it now wants to find out whether registering supporters of terrorism groups could be done in accordance with Swedish data protection legislation.
“There is no legal opportunity to actually register someone solely based on their political opinions,” Markus Naarttijärvi, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Law at Umeå University, told Radio Sweden.
There could be room within Swedish legislation for registering people sympathising with terrorist groups, however, provided there are additional reasons for the registration as such. For instance, if a person commits a crime for political reasons, that creates an opportunity to register those political views in the public record, Naarttijärvi says.
The question now up for review, whether a police authority is allowed to register individuals sympathising with terrorist groups, will be important as a matter of principle. Whether or not Säpo will get its request approved is down to what they put into the word “sympathise,” believes Naarttijärvi.
“If the person holding these sympathies with terrorist organisations has made any efforts to put this sympathy or this opinion into action, they have committed a crime in doing so. But if it’s solely based on sympathising generally with the Islamic State for example, I don’t see any possibility of this being in line with the constitutional provision,” he said.
Säpo’s request is currently being processed by the Swedish Data Protection Authority. Earlier this year Säpo also requested full digital access to the Swedish Migration Agency’s asylum system.