Privacy, Integrity and Freedom of Expression

Published: 2012-12-19
Updated: 2013-01-31


It is fundamental for Tele2 to act with respect for customers’ rights to Privacy and Integrity (P&I) and Freedom of Expression (FoE); it is part of our culture and our Code of Conduct. To be more specific about our way of doing business in regard to P&I and FoE, we have formulated our position and published it here. The purpose of this publication is to help our stakeholders - with primarily focus on customers - to get an understanding of the rules we are following and how it may impact them as customers.

Privacy & Integrity

First of all Privacy & Integrity could have different meanings but to us it represents:

Activities conducted by us or by external parties (legal authorities and private actors) which provide means for: lawful interception, data retention of call data records (CDRs) and data protection.

To further describe the above, lawful interception refers to situations where States (lawfully) performs interception of phone calls and communication based on domestic legislation. This always happens in real-time and “lawfully” means that a warrant (court decision) has been obtained from the competent Authority (which could vary from country to country but normally is some court of law). Legal CDR is when telecom operators provide external authorized parties, such as prosecutors, the Security service or Police, with historical data (such as for example positions), on lawful request. By lawful we mean the same as for interception, that is that the competent authority needs a warrant before we, as an operator, can provide the requested information. The criteria for retaining a warrant are based on domestic legislation. Both lawful interception and CDRs cover information related to mobile phone data such as voice data, IP data and sms data.

The third area “data protection” covers processing of end users and employees personal data. The legal ground for processing data in Tele2’s subsidiaries based within the EEA, can be found in the 15 year old EU Directive – 95/46/EC (“Directive”). The Directive clarifies under what circumstances data processing is legal, and the Directive also lay down the rules for how data controllers, i.e. the legal body (private or public) or individual, shall protect data which are collected, used and handled for data processing reasons. Personal Data is processed for many reasons, for example in order to carry out a service (invoice data), to enhance the end user experience (data used in customer care) and for marketing reasons. The principle rule in the Directive states that all processing of data is illegal if certain criteria has not been fulfilled. The most frequently used method for making processing of personal data legal is to collect the end-user’s consent prior to the processing. Consent for specific processing is collect from Tele2’s end users in our Terms and Condition when the subscribers enter into an agreement with Tele2. The current Directive has been found to be outdated. The main reason for this is that the technological development over the past 15 years has led to the current Directive no longer provides the level of data protection needed. Therefore the EU is since 25 of January 2012 revising the Directive. A new EU Data protection Regulation is expected to be finalized by the end of 2015/begining of 2016. Tele2 takes handling of end user data seriously and are highly involved in the work with the upcoming Regulation. One of Tele2’s main concerns is that end users data will not be protected alike even when the end-user is using equivalent services since different sector specific legislations hinder this. Secondly Tele2 want to ensure that the final result of the revision of the Directive lead to a fully harmonized Regulation which can be applied in practice across sectors and member states. Read more about Tele2’s position in our data protection position paper which is also available on our homepage.

The right to privacy, with reference also to integrity, is an international Human Right as it has been defined in the United Nations’: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Article 12, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 17. It is also to be found in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), article 8. See the full Articles in the summary below.

Freedom of Expression

Freedom of Expression (FoE) is an essentiality in enabling democracy and it could be said to provide a gateway to the realization of many other human rights. Further FoE and the related Freedom of Speech (FoS) could be considered cornerstones in international Human Rights, see the clauses about FoE in Article 19 in both the UDHR and the ICCPR and Article 10 in the ECHR. While FoE and Freedom of Speech are often mixed up or used synonymously there are important differences: Freedom of Speech refers to a political right to communicate opinions and ideas (to speak one’s mind) and Freedom of Expression is the act of seeking, receiving and imparting information and ideas, regardless of the medium used, without fear or interference. However FoE is not an absolute right, which is important to understand, since there are certain circumstances that are limiting FoE. Examples of such settings could be certain intolerance such as “hate speech” or “harm/offence principle”, copyright violation or national security reasons if used in connection to Freedom of Assembly for example, see Article 19 in ICCPR and Article 10-11 in ECHR.

Shut down of networks is one important instrument for Governments to mitigate terrorism, or more specifically to prevent bomb explosions, for example, if detonators are triggered by mobile phones. But it could also be misused by regimes combating democracy processes. Rightly used in compliance with international Human Rights shut down of networks is a lifesaving necessity and key tool for sovereign states to utilize in order to maintain national security. On the contrary non-democratic parties and regimes could force telecom operators to shut down networks claiming it is for legitimate reasons. In general, regardless of the authorized source of the request to shut down a network, it needs to be emphasized that it is difficult for an operator to make a quick and well founded judgment of the reasons behind the request. The matter and assessment is sensitive since the shut down could be vital for saving lives or fatal for oppositions or democratic parties hunted by non-democratic regimes. Most requests also occur very urgently so there is often not much time for analyzing the situation. To be as prepared as we can, fulfilling our responsibility, we implemented a group wide process which is applicable for all our operations. The process has clearly defined roles and responsibilities on national and group level.

Tele2’s position

P&I and FoE are very important for us as well as for our customers. Our Group steering document is our Code of Conduct (CoC). In our code we have stated that we conduct business in accordance with the highest ethical standards. In regard to P&I and FoE this means that we respect related and applicable Human Rights declarations but also that we, as a company’s first obligation according to the so called “Ruggie” principles (the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework”, dated 21 March 2011 and endorsed 16 June 2011), are to comply with local and national laws in countries of operations. In practice this means that we do not provide any information or material to any Security Service or Police unless there is a lawful warrant or unless there is a law-based exception. We do not shut down our networks unless we could reasonably be considered to act in good faith; the request is assessed to be lawful according to national laws and is not expected to violate international Human Rights. For countries operating under so called “SORM laws”, affecting lawful interception and partly CDR, we comply with the law which basically cuts out the telecom operator from being part of the interception and CDR processess. In some countries we, as an operator, have not even the right to be informed of the fact that interception and CDR are carried out. In such situations any activities, by authorized external parties, are taking place out of our sphere of influence or boundary (operational control and/or influence). In our countries of operations parties conducting interception and CDR need a warrant in advance at each time, except under very specific circumstances such as avoiding suicide or saving lives in other ways, to be acting lawfully. In most countries it is the Prosecutor Authority which is responsible for the surveillance of the system.

In any potential cases of suspicions of misuse of interception, the effort should, in our opinion, be focused primarily on reaching out to the supervisory authority. Such contact could be designed as dialogues and we – in accordance with the Ruggie principles - are encouraging States, and in particular the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, to perform dialogues with other States stressing the importance of human rights. Finally we would like to emphasize the need for Government backup in emergency situations.

Human Rights

Below is a list of applicable articles from the United Nations’ UDHR and ICCPR as well as the ECHR regarding P&I and FoE. The articles, which sometimes are identical, will provide basic rights which we need to consider at significant business decisions that would impact the topics. Governmental requests shall always be reasonable weighted and assessed against the below to ensure compliance:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, dated 1948

  • Article 12
    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
  • Article 19
    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
  • Article 20
    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
    2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
  • Article 29
    1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
    2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
    3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
  • Article 30
    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, entered into force in 1976

  • Article 17
    1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.
    2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
  • Article 19
    1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
    2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
    3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
    (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
    (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

The European Convention on Human Rights, dated 1950

  • Article 8
    1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
    2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
  • Article 10
    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. this right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
    2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
  • Article 11
    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
    2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. this article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.