Danish security service kept ‘deleted’ data in secret archive: report

Denmark’s police security service PET transferred an unknown amount of data to a secret database despite a law requiring its deletion, according to a report.

Danish security service kept 'deleted' data in secret archive: report
Photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Ritzau Scanpix

According to Danish law, sensitive personal information must be deleted no more than 15 years after it has been recorded by PET.

But PET employees can see information in the secret database if they are given permission by bosses, Politiken reports.

The agency wrote that it, as part of investigations, had “very, very rarely accessed the storage-worthy material” in a mail to Politiken. Exactly how often was not specified.

PET is not obliged to ask others for permission when accessing the material, but did agree in 2015 to inform watchdog agency Tilsynet med Efterretningstjenesterne (Supervision of Intelligence Services) whenever it accessed the material.

According to public documents accessed by Politiken, PET referred to the use of the secret database as “logical deletion” (logisk sletning).

An archiving law from 2013 provided the basis for the material to be saved. According to that law, large amounts of PET’s material must be transferred to state archives for the benefit of future historians.

But some of the information is actually stored by PET for security-related reasons.

Amnesty International lawyer Claus Juul said the legal construction enabling the data to be stored in this way was “absurd”.

“It is pure George Orwell to call this ‘logical deletion’, as it is neither logical nor a deletion. It is transfer of data from one archive to another archive, which they then lock and give PET the keys to,” Juul told Politiken.

The legal counsel also said that the apparent legal loophole was a result of provisions giving the state archive power to decide what information should be stored.

“And that can be understood to mean everything [is stored],” he said to Ritzau.

Four political parties, crossing the parliamentary aisle, have now asked for Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen to provide an explanation for the issue.

“My answer is as short as it is honest: this is an issue I have not heard of before,” spokesperson Preben Bang Henriksen of the Liberal party, a coalition government partner, told Politiken.

“This seems like a loophole that has been set up to get around the rules we have made to protect innocent, registered Danes,” said Rosa Lund of the opposition Red-Green Alliance.

READ ALSO: Could Denmark's personal registration number be linked to Facebook accounts?

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Swedish Huawei ban is legal, court rules

A Swedish ban on Chinese telecoms company Huawei was confirmed in court on Tuesday, citing the country's security as a just reason for banning its equipment in a 5G rollout.

Swedish Huawei ban is legal, court rules
Photo: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

The administrative court in Stockholm ruled that the decision of the Swedish telecoms authority, PTS, to ban the use of equipment from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE in a new Swedish 5G telecom network last October — a move that irked Beijing — was legal.

Equipment already installed must also be removed by January 1st, 2025.

“Sweden’s security is an important reason and the administrative court has considered that it’s only the security police and the military that together have a full picture when it comes to the security situation and threats against Sweden,” judge Ulrika Melin said in a statement.

Huawei denounced the ruling, but did not say whether it would appeal.

“We are of course noting that there has been no evidence of any wrongdoings by Huawei which is being used as basis for this verdict, it is purely based on assumption,” Kenneth Fredriksen, the company’s vice-president for Central, Eastern Europe and the Nordic region, told AFP.

Huawei will now evaluate the decision and the “see what kind of actions we will take to protect our rights,” Fredriksen added.

After the UK in the summer of 2020, Sweden became the second country in Europe and the first in the EU to explicitly ban Huawei from almost all of the network infrastructure needed to run its 5G network.

Beijing had warned that PTS’ decision could have “consequences” for the Scandinavian country’s companies in China, prompting Swedish telecom giant and Huawei competitor Ericsson to worry about retaliation.

“We will continue to be available to have constructive dialogues with Swedish authorities to see if we can find pragmatic ways of taking care of security and at the same time keeping an open and fair market like Sweden has always been,” Fredriksen said.