Our International Spotlight Shines it’s Light on Denmark

Mathew Sayer From our Perspective

Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cuba and now Denmark. Bring a coat.

Denmark

This Scandinavian country has some of the highest living standards in the world, one of the lowest Gini coefficients (a measure of inequality), and guess what- they pay some of the highest personal income tax rates too.

The majority of Danes live a pretty satisfied life. Lego is headquartered there for crying out loud. Being part of the European Union but not part of the Euro has insulated Denmark from much of the global economic troubles- although I tend to think that all the oil and natural gas doesn’t hurt. You know Greenland? That belongs to Denmark, making it the 12th largest by area despite having a population of only 5.7 million.

Nine Eyes

Five Eyes is the English-speaking surveillance alliance that includes GCHQ and the NSA. But Nine Eyes is the bumper version, including countries that are pretty cosy with the original five; Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Norway.

Joining Nine Eyes means getting access to the delicious tools devised by GCHQ and NSA in exchange for some intelligence swapping. Denmark is also part of the Tier B group with whom Five Eyes have focused cooperation on computer network exploitation with.

Anybody got an ANPR camera?

A common feature in our International Spotlight series is the relationship the country in question has with private surveillance contractors. Denmark is no exception. Diving into WikileaksHacking Team archive yielded some interesting (for me at least) information on the supply chains and government procurements market.

On October 20, 2014, Hacking Team received a marketing email from Tenders On Time. ToT is a list of wanted adverts for business and governments. Whenever a state agency needs a new IT system or a couple of fighter jets they put it out to tender. The Danish police force was looking for a set of ANPR cameras and an “electronic intelligence system”. In case you are wondering, ANPR cameras read the license plates of motorists passing by. The interesting bit is that the deadline for this project was November 2014 however, in January 2016 the Danish Ministry of Justice approved a bill that would allow the police to use the equipment. Begging the question; were the Danish police using the cameras before legal approval was granted?

Under the law, Danish authorities would be able to store license plates for 24 hours, in some cases for up to 30 days. Blacklisted cars could be stored for up to two years. ANPR cameras create another data point to be aggregated and cross-referenced along with your bank records, your social media, and your mobile phone.

A group of Danish activists has taken matters into their own hammers by smashing the cameras, posting in inner-workings of the camera boxes and mapping the locations of many more.

An ANPR camera smashed by activists in Denmark

Smash goes the ANPR camera

Come back next time for an E country!


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