• Sweden's news in English

'Criminalize offensive online comments'

14 Jan 2013, 13:15

Published: 14 Jan 2013 13:15 GMT+01:00

"We come into contact daily with people who feel their privacy has been violated on the internet," Göran Gräslund, head of Sweden's Data Protection Board (Datainspektionen) said in a statement.

"A general criminal penalty would be a tool to help deter these insults."

The agency submitted its recommendations after the government asked for a review of laws on freedom of speech and the press in Sweden.

Currently, websites operated by media companies are protected by free speech clauses included in Sweden's constitution.

However, other websites such as blogs can also claim similar constitutional protections from charges of defamation or slander if the publisher is registered with the Swedish Patent and Registration Administration (PRV).

The Data Inspection Board wants Sweden to adopt legislation to criminalize the posting of extremely offensive and insulting comments on websites regardless of whether they are covered by Sweden's free speech protections.

"It shouldn't make a difference whether serious insults and privacy violations take place within or outside of areas protected by the constitution," said Gräslund.

"A general criminal penalty would help create a balance between freedom of speech and protecting people's privacy."

Story continues below…

The Local/dl

Follow The Local on Twitter

Your comments about this article

16:00 January 14, 2013 by Kevin Harris
Why limit this proposed law to the internet?

All offensive comments should be a criminal offence, inside Sweden and outside. Anyone in the world who thinks, says or writes anything that Sweden's Data Protection Board finds to be offensive should be criminalised.

That should sort the world out once and for all.
16:14 January 14, 2013 by Beavis
pffff bullying disguised as censorship.. if you dont like the comments just ignore it (like you will this one) otherwise its the first large nail in the nail of the cureent internet coffin. we whine about China not giving rights and here we are in Sweden wanting the exact same done.
16:51 January 14, 2013 by Kevin Harris
@ Beavis

Your message offends me. Therefore you are a criminal.
16:51 January 14, 2013 by Frobobbles
Error in the article: "constitutional protections from charges of defamation or slander". No, what the law means is that the publisher is legally responsible, and has to have an 'ansvarig utgivare' that takes the blame for what the reporters and commenters write.
17:50 January 14, 2013 by Beavis
@Kevin Harris exactly.. just means everything published in sweden will be controlled by the sensor, with the sensor choosing whats offensive and whats not.. It shounds like a red party wet dream, with them in control
19:01 January 14, 2013 by k2kats
It's possible to respect constitutional rights to free speech AND expect individuals to accept responsibility for that right.
19:51 January 14, 2013 by johan rebel
"It shouldn't make a difference whether serious insults and privacy violations take place within or outside of areas protected by the constitution,"

That's by far the stupidest statement I've read in ages!

Might as well abolish the entire constitution, then.
20:32 January 14, 2013 by truthcode
like in Cuba Communist ,world governments are bent on controlling people
21:04 January 14, 2013 by cogito
Sweden doesn't need government control, like Cuba. Swedish journalists practice auto-censorship.
07:05 January 15, 2013 by truthcode
so journalists communist then ,support from governments
08:21 January 15, 2013 by Frobobbles
Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!
09:32 January 15, 2013 by robban70226
smells like a censorship in the free expression, anything can be offensive and an insult even when you say that the weather is bad can offend some people,

be carefull with what you ask, you may get it.. think at the total implication of issues.
09:44 January 15, 2013 by engagebrain
If I call a politician and immoral thieving lying useless moneygrabber - the politician may find it offensive but I might claim that it is my opinion based on fact.

You can be sure that any legislation will in practice favour the powerful, the politician, over the average citizen.

There are also intractable problems with criminalising offensive comments - 'Jesus in not the son of god' will offend some Christians while the converse 'Jesus is the son of god' will deeply offend some Muslims.

For any restriction on free speach the bar has to be set very much higher than merely giving offensive as what is offensive is highly subjective and the truth can be offensive.
11:52 January 15, 2013 by Max Reaver
If this law is ever passed, it would be interesting to see how it works in practice. If someone posts another ridiculing cartoon about the Islamic prophet, will it be judged in favor of Muslims, who have all the rights and reasons to feel offended? To be honest, I don't trust the Swedish judicial system to make the right call on this one.
15:07 January 15, 2013 by truthcode
speak openly is against government(population control),Swedish are the first to lower the head.
15:24 January 16, 2013 by karex
This all sounded so strangely familiar...

Then I remembered: 1984!
Today's headlines
'Our story is some kind of Disney fairytale'
The happy couple. Photo: Private

'Our story is some kind of Disney fairytale'

1 hour ago

Josefin Karlsson was so disgusted by the abuse hurled at the young beggar sitting outside her local supermarket in Gothenburg that she resolved to talk to him. The chats went rather better than expected, because in December they get married.

Refugee crisis
Sweden split over move to tighten asylum rules
Refugees arriving in Malmö earlier in November. Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT

Sweden split over move to tighten asylum rules

5 hours ago

UPDATED: Public opinion was divided in Sweden after the government announced a shock tightening of asylum rules in a bid to stem the influx of refugees, which could see people turned away at the border.

Champions League
Zlatan eyes hero's welcome to Malmö
Zlatan Ibrahimovic at a press conference ahead of the match. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Zlatan eyes hero's welcome to Malmö

6 hours ago

Sweden's star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is planning a glorious night when he returns to his native city to tackle his first club Malmö FF in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The Local List
Seven seriously silly Swedish sayings
What do a cow, beards and a dog have in common? Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/Leif R Jansson/TT

Seven seriously silly Swedish sayings

6 hours ago

Swedish is a tough language to learn, and strange proverbs about cows, dead dogs, and suspicious owls don't help. The Local has listed some of the seven silliest sayings to help you on the way.

Winter in Sweden presented by Visit Linköping
The Swedish Christmas market with a twist
The Gamla Linköping Christmas market. Photo: The Local

The Swedish Christmas market with a twist

7 hours ago

Each year when Christmas comes to town, shoppers fill the streets as markets pop up throughout Sweden. The Local heads to Linköping to get a taste of what makes its annual Christmas market unique.

Refugee crisis
Refugee teen: 'I saw the fire and ran outside'
A fire in Onsala in October. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Refugee teen: 'I saw the fire and ran outside'

7 hours ago

Refugees in Sweden describe how they are living in fear following a string of arson attacks on asylum accommodation as the far-right movement appears to grow.

Bacon back in Swedish hotels after huge uproar
Bacon is back on the menu of Comfort hotels in Sweden. Photo: Jonathan Hayward/AP/TT

Bacon back in Swedish hotels after huge uproar

19 hours ago

Petter Stordalen, the owner of the Nordic Choice Hotel Group, has performed a swift U-turn by re-introducing bacon at the chain's Swedish hotels, just a week after banning processed meat.

Presented by Stockholm Business Region
How Stockholm solved a startup’s housing crisis
Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/imagebank.sweden.se

How Stockholm solved a startup’s housing crisis

23 hours ago

The Stockholm startup scene has become more international than ever, recruiting the best of global talent to join the city's booming tech cluster. But if foreigners can't find housing, startups worry, it's all for naught. Now the City of Stockholm has stepped in.

Eurovision 2016
How to get tickets for Eurovision in Stockholm
Sweden's Eurovision 2015 star Måns Zelmerlöw. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

How to get tickets for Eurovision in Stockholm

1 day ago

Tickets for the hyped Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Stockholm in May next year, are set to go on sale on Thursday. Find out how to grab a spot at the world's biggest music festival.

Refugee crisis
Bid to house refugees on Swedish cruise ships
Refugees could soon be accommodated on cruise ships like the one above. Photo: AP/TT

Bid to house refugees on Swedish cruise ships

1 day ago

Refugees could be housed on Swedish cruise ships in a bid to ease the urgent asylum accommodation shortage as winter sets in, migration authorities have said.

What do Swedes want for Christmas?
How to get tickets to Eurovision in Stockholm next year
Sponsored Article
Swedish researchers find Ice Age 'missing link'
Sponsored Article
Lofsdalen: The real Swedish wilderness
GUIDE: How to help refugees if you live in Sweden
Blog updates

20 November

Editor’s blog, November 20th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, It has been a long and busy week for The Local as we reported on..." READ »


21 November

 (Joel Sherwood) »

"Sweden on high alert over threat of Republican candidates. The country raised its terror level to ‘high’..." READ »

IN PICTURES: New royal winter snaps of Sweden's Princess Estelle
Sponsored Article
Top five UK weekend getaways from Sweden
Mystery ice circle in Swedish river
Sponsored Article
Beaches, bikes, and buds: studying in Malmö
Sponsored Article
Sweden must combat extremist 'mirage'
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Stockholm film festival's top movies
Sponsored Article
How to figure out healthcare abroad
People-watching: November 20th-22nd
Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: the new epicentre of global leadership
Swedish King calls for bathtub ban
Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se
Sponsored Article
‘Food choices in Sweden destroy forests in Asia’
Analysis & Opinion
Why you should care about Sweden raising its terror threat level
Sponsored Article
The cheapest and fastest way to transfer money
Stockholm's best international bars
Is this the best warning sign ever?
Why are more Swedes getting fat?
Sweden's tribute to Paris victims
What is Sweden's sexiest name?
VIDEO: Madonna's emotional tribute to Paris victims at Stockholm gig
Nine of the merriest Swedish Christmas fairs
Sweden cashes in on new kronor banknotes
How lonely are you in Sweden?
Roaming bear shot dead in Swedish village in Uppsala county
Seven tips for scoring firm friendships in Sweden
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at: