Joakim Jardenberg – a Swedish Internet debater and an expert in social media shares his views on surveillance, Digital Single Market and mobile bullying.

Joakim Jardenberg

Joakim Jardenberg

Jardenberg is a Head of Internet of Helsingborg since November 2013. He is a business angel who runs the company and the blog Mindpark. Moreover, he was an appointed “expert” to work with the former Swedish Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on the Northern Future Forum (

Jardenberg had a speech at the Open Data Hackathon in Örebro ( on the 20th of November, 2014. The whole presentation you can see here.

Open Knowledge Sweden met Joakim in Örebro to ask him some questions.

– As an Internet expert, what level of surveillance, do you think, is right for the open democratic society?

– It depends. If the surveillance per say is open as well then I think we can allow pretty much. But, if we don’t know about the surveillance or it is done stealthy or within closed rooms when we can’t survey the surveillance, then we have a real problem.

In terms of Internet specifically, I think the problem we have with surveillance isn’t really in big corporations. Because we can choose to leave Google, we can, it’s true. We can choose to not be on Facebook. What we can’t choose is the country’s level of surveillance that have to stand with. I think for instance, in Sweden the FRA-law* is horrible. This is the thing that we should not accept in a civil society…

The important thing for everyone is to be knowledgeable about what surveillance is being undertaken.We should be informed about what we can do and how we can argue against it and work against the levels of surveillance that we think is going too far.

*FRA law (in Swedish FRA-lagen) is the informal name given to a series of legislative changes in Sweden as well as a new law on electronic communication and on signals in defence intelligence, which came into force on 1 January 2009. Försvarets radioanstalt (FRA) by means of FRA-law got extended rights to conduct surveillance. The law has been repeatedly criticized by the media and society.

In terms of our Open Censor Data Network in Helsingborg we have no individual data there whatsoever. Everything is just aggregated data. Since we don’t collect it ,we can’t misuse it. So we try to keep the very high level of integrity in everything we do.

– What is your opinion about the EU-initiative of establishing the Digital Single Market**?

**Digital Single Market – is a new project initiated by the EU. The idea behind is that many barriers still block the free flow of online services and entertainment across national borders. The Digital Agenda will update EU Single Market rules for the digital era. The aims are to boost the music download business, establish a single area for online payments, and further protect EU consumers in cyberspace. Here is a mission letter of Andrus Ansip who is the new Vice-President for the Digital Single Market. More information on Digital Single Market is presented by the European Commission.

– I am not quite familiar with this project. I have a fear for initiatives like this because they usually tend to take the path of the most resistant parties. If we talk about Copyright, what we’ve seen is that every effort to unify the Copyright laws has extended the Copyright term. So it has been extended, it has been longer, more intrusive and turned into a really bad situation. So, I think in broad initiatives like this we should make sure that we go as open and wide as possible, which is often not the case. In this specific initiative, I see certain fears that for instance, legislation containing how we should handle long files and what kind of traceability we should have, is going to be extended. Generally, when we try to unify legislation in very broad areas it tends to go very wrong.

If we talk about terms like mobile roaming and sales taxes, I would be happy to see the EU as one market, absolutely. That would be a good thing. But if it goes beyond than tearing down borders and opening up for possibilities then it might go over to the flip side.

– From which age, do you think, children should be introduced to the Internet? Do you have any rules or restrictions in Helsingborg’s schools or kinder gardens?

In Helsingborg, we think that accessibility to the Internet and tools you need to use the Internet should be provided as soon as you feel the desire to, so that could be at the age of two or eleven month, I don’t know. We don’t put any restrictions or don’t have any general ideas that before the age of seven you shouldn’t be allowed to do that.

In terms of health, which is a big discussion, our brain changes all the time. I don’t see it as a problem that our brain is being changed and adapted to using digital tools. The only restrictions, I would like to set up, are to prohibit schools from taking cell phones from pupils. A lot of schools do that today. I think that is a massive intrusion on our privacy and integrity and it’s counterproductive to anything that could be evolving into a great possibility to learning. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

There are also schools that put restrictions on what be should available online. They see bullying on or they see bullying on this app called Secret and they decide to restrict the accessibility to those services by different means which is absolutely ridiculous. We shouldn’t do that, cause we are not censors here.

We should work hard to try and get our pupils and citizens in Helsingborg to understand the true values of citizenship and human rights and respect for each other. And these are the same questions in the physical world as they are in the digital world. We shouldn’t put specific digital restrictions in the digital space. So, open and free and available for everyone.

And if we see a lot of bulling online then we are actually in a good position because we can finally see the bulling. We can see and work with what is actually happening as opposed to traditional bulling which takes place around the corner, wherever there isn’t an eye of an adult. This hidden bulling is a real problem.

The problems we have in a digital space are like a litmus paper of the problems we have in a physical world. We can use that litmus paper and spotlight on the problems and bring it in into the physical world and say ‘Hey, should we really be treating each other like this? Someone actually said this in this classroom. Is that OK? Is that the kind of relationship we want to have with each other?’ And we have physical prove of what is happening. We never used to have that. So, this is a big possibility to solve some of the fundamental human problems we have in our interpersonal relationships. So, no restrictions!