Sweden's increasingly polished alternate media feel threatened. Johan Westerholm of ledarsidorna.se thinks this could be the end for him. Chang Frick, head of Nyheter Idag and behind innumerable major scoops over the past few years, including exposing the Bonnier coverup of rapes in downtown Stockholm, spoke with High Court Magistrate Katarina Rikte last July.
Censorship. That's what they're trying to bring to Sweden, according to Katarina Rikte, high court magistrate for Skåne and Blekinge, and one of the strongest critics of Stefan Löfven's proposal.
The Court of Appeal for Skåne and Blekinge is one of the referral bodies that was given the opportunity to comment on the new law, and Rikte is part of the group of four court lawyers who composed the court's response.
'She's our expert in this area. She knows this stuff out to her fingertips', says fellow magistrate Lennart Svensäter.
A Giant Black Hole
Katarina Rikte doesn't mince words when Nyheter Idag contacts her. In particular, it's the new 'exceptions' to freedoms that Stefan Löfven wants to introduce that she finds troublesome.
'What they're planning with these rules: it opens a giant black hole in our most fundamental legislation. So we told them that they can't do this, that this is not possible.'
Currently, there are exceptions to the laws covering freedom of the press (TF) and freedom of speech (YGL): child pornography, alcohol and tobacco advertising, attacking ethnic groups, and more.
'It's not like you can publish anything. You can, yes, but you can also be held to account after the fact.'
But Stefan Löfven now wants to introduce changes to Sweden's grundlag, the most basic law in the country, and this will deliberately crumble Sweden's protection of fundamental freedoms.
This will pave the way for new laws that sanction media before anything's even published. And that, says Katarina Rikte, constitutes censorship, pure plain and simple.
'These provisions: they pave the way for this possibility. They are in violation of our ban on censorship.'
'You can't interfere with something set for publication before it's published - that is a core principle.'
Stefan Löfven also wants to extend exceptions to a wide range of new areas such as personal data 'revealing ethnic origin, skin colour or similar matters, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or union membership' as well as information 'that an individual has committed criminal offences or has been convicted in criminal proceedings'.
"We reacted very strongly to that. Of course we did', says Ritke.
During the interview, Ritke came back time and again to the expression 'black hole'. She's careful to point out that the changes affect all constitutional media, not just certain players, and they mean that ordinary journalistic processes lose protection in the law. Amongst other things, it might be about charting criminal gangs, something newspapers can at times engage in, and which for the future may be banned because it's considered offensive to the criminals [sic].
'They stated that such collations may be used in traditional mass media, including those published in conjunction with news reports - they wrote that in themselves', said Ritke.
Shutting Down Independent Journalism
'In other words: it's about critical journalism. Are we going to have a black hole in our legislation so they can shut down critical journalism? No, we can't allow that. That is my opinion. This is important - this is really important.'
The Secret Blacklist
Stefan Löfven's legislative committee made no secret of the fact that they find some publications 'difficult'. These publications are referred to in the report as 'databases that may contain offences to integrity' [sic].
Lexbase.se, Ratsit.se and Merinfo.se are three such publications - sites where you can download court judgments, or details of debts and financial conditions for individuals, something Stefan Löfven wants to stop.
And that - officially, that is - is the reason for this strange law.
But on that list are thirty-three (33) additional companies. And who they are is something that no one outside a small circle around Stefan Löfven has ever seen.
'This is really bad', says Katarina Ritke.
Ritke objects to the fact that Stefan Löfven is sabotaging fundamental freedoms under the pretext of protecting personal privacy. She argues that it simply does not need to be done. She says that, in a democracy, media must sometimes publish things that people may find offensive.
'If it's a violation of freedom of the press or freedom of speech, there's no problem. This can be addressed already today with current legislation. If it's something else, then it can't be prosecuted. That's the way it is.'
Additional ramifications include only 'approved' mainstream media having access to FOI and public access documents.
All Sweden's political parties have already expressed their support for the new law, save for the Citizens Coalition ('MED') and the Sweden Democrats (SD) who requested a national referendum.
The government of Stefan Löfven is the most disastrous in Sweden's modern history.