Police Want Authority To Spy On Citizens - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Police Want Authority To Spy On Citizens

Published February 26, 2015

Photos by
HMH

The Icelandic police want the authority to “gather information” on individuals they deem a threat to public safety; the qualifications for which span a very wide range.

According to “The Police Commissioner’s Assessment Of The Risk Of Terrorism And Other Large-Scale Attacks”, the police believe that Iceland’s threat level has now reached “moderate” levels, by which they mean “it is not possible to rule out the threat of a domestic terrorist attack”. In order to completely rule out any chance of a terrorist attack, the police propose a number of increased powers, amongst them:

“Consideration must be given to legislation on increased investigative powers of the police against offenses against the government, i.e., terrorism. It is recommended that a cooperative platform be created between the police, social services and health authorities with increased power to gather information on individuals who may pose a threat to public safety. Social resources should be created for those who have been exposed to radicalism.”

This refers to a recent proposal from police for the power to conduct what they call “proactive investigations”, an idea that Minister of the Interior Ólöf Norðdal believes “should be examined”. The idea, which has been proposed without success in years previous, would give police the right to investigate anyone, at any time, even if they were not suspected of having committed a crime or to be planning to do so. The rationale behind proactive investigations is to assist police in “the fight against organised crime, both foreign and domestic, human trafficking, drug smuggling, and terrorist threats”.

In this new assessment, the police also emphasise not just increasing “capabilities”, but that their operations should also “be based on the policy regarding new Icelanders and asylum seekers which ensures stability in our society and eases assimilation into it”. They also mentioned that the number of tourists visiting Iceland in 2014 “was three times the population”.

In terms of who could pose a threat to Icelandic society, the net is cast wide. While Iceland “is not a top priority on the agenda of terrorist organisations”, the police emphasise that “it would only take a small group of extremists to do a great deal of damage”. With this in mind, the police say, they have outlined a number of possible threats.

The Islamic State (IS) is given special attention, not least of all for using an Icelandic domain name for one of their websites, which has since been shut down. However, “left-wing extremists”, “anarchists”, and “right-wing extremists” are also cited as potential threats. They also outline some “warning signs”, attributed to Europol, that “an individual, especially young men, could be planning a terrorist attack”. These warning signs are:

“- Chooses social isolation
– Has an interest in/admiration for militarism and uniforms
– Hates the government
– Identifies with mass murder
– Describes themselves as supporting extremist and terrorist attacks
– Collects bomb-making materials
– Collects firearms
– Works out and uses steroids
– Plays a lot of war games and violent video games on the internet”

The assessment concludes by emphasising the need for the police to have increased investigative powers, and the ability to “gather information on individuals who may pose a threat to public safety.”

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