Yes and police spyware: Swedish police announced new techniques to combat crime this week. One of them is the ability to develop spyware on suspicious devices.
This software will be designed to block encrypted communications and enable microphones and cameras.
The decision was announced by Swedish Interior Minister Mikael Damberg at a press conference on Tuesday 22 October.
The new technical capabilities that the Swedish police will acquire are part of an 34 plan for upgrading law enforcement powers to investigate gangs or violent crimes.
Damberg said that providing these techniques to the police to stop encrypted communications was one of the top priorities, as they could not attend criminal groups that frequently use services like Signal and WhatsApp to coordinate their operations.
Spyware instead of backdoors in encryption
But unlike countries like Australia, where the local government has passed a law forcing technology companies to take back encryption, Swedish police will take a different route - also known as the German route.
More than a decade ago, the German authorities began developing a malicious software called Federal trojan (Federal trojan).
The Swedish police plan is similar in that it plans to develop malware with spyware capabilities on suspicious devices. This will help them hear encrypted audio calls or watch real-time video. They will also be able to export chat logs from encrypted instant messaging applications.
The way the Swedish authorities will do this is not known, but there are at least two paths. They can create the malware themselves or buy it from third parties. The latest option is also the most popular in law enforcement services around the world and there is a growing market for companies that sell hacking tools as legitimate surveillance tools to law enforcement agencies.
The new features are expected to take effect on 1 in March of 2020. According to Damberg, the police will only be able to use them if the crime is worthy of a punishment of four years or more.