• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Site lets Swedes snoop on friends' criminal past

TT/The Local/at · 27 Jan 2014, 10:11

Published: 27 Jan 2014 10:11 GMT+01:00

The new Lexbase.se service allows people in Sweden to look up a friend's, colleague's or neighbour's criminal record, and to get an overview of their neighbourhood, with red dots signaling the presence of convicted criminals on a map.

The service has defended its new product as an extension of Sweden's right to public information law, but critics said on Monday that it may breach not only privacy laws, but also legislation on slander.

"I think the business idea is dead in the water," law professor Mårten Schultz told the TT news agency. "It sounds like it contravenes the personal information law and will be taken down."

Lexbase.se spokesman, lawyer Pontus Ljunggren, said the service was in line with the times and suits Swedes' desire for information. He argued that the website could help women on the dating scene, as they might want to know if their prospective date had any previous convicts for rape or assault.

"The underlying idea with the right to information act (Offentlighetsprincipen) is that transparency is a good thing. We are just making it more modern," he told TT.

Ljunggren added that the company could not take responsibility for how information on site was used.

"It can, just like anything else, be abused. But we can't take responsibility for what people do. They can get the same information from their local district court," Ljungman said.

On Monday, the site was temporarily offline due to a flood of traffic.

Lawyer Johan Åberg, who specializes in libel and slander cases, said how people use the information from Lexbase was relevant.

"If my neighbour has five convictions and I download the verdicts and then canvas the neighbourhood to tell people, I could be guilty of slander," Åberg told TT. 

The issues of privacy and right to information are not new in Sweden. In 2009, authorities moved to close down a website where parents swapped information about convicted rapists and sex offenders, in particular crimes involving minors.

Story continues below…

"We consider the publication to be a serious breach of privacy laws. That is why we are now reporting the site to the police," said Data Inspection Board (Datainspektionen) head Göran Gräslund said at the time.

Legal experts have outlined fear that the spread of such information could spark vigilante or mob justice.

"In a democracy it is of great interest that the state retains a monopoly on the administration of justice and that there is not some form of private punishment," said retired state prosecutor Sven-Erik Alheim to Crime News.

Schultz, meanwhile, said that services such as Lexbase illustrated the ease of spreading information. 
 
"There have been discussions all the way up to the European level about the fact that the internet makes it so cheap to store this kind of data," he told TT. "The right to information law was not meant to work this way." 

TT/The Local/at (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Drunken Christmas goat burner risks four years in jail
The Christmas goat looks at the fireworks and contemplates its future. Photo: Mats Åstrand/TT

His singed eyebrows were a dead giveaway.

Joe Biden: 'Sweden has shown great leadership'
Joe Biden, left, and Stefan Löfven. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

US Vice President Joe Biden praised Sweden for "punching way above its weight" in the global refugee crisis.

Nepal's Sherpas rebuild Swedish mountain paths
Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest mountain. Photo: Stockholms Universitet

Nepalese sherpas have been called in to improve hillwalking safety on Sweden's highest mountain Kebnekaise.

23 people tricked into renting the same Malmö apartment
Sweden's housing market is notoriously tricky. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

"I have never felt so stupid and so conned."

Sweden on standby to help earthquake-hit Italy
Rescue workers search through the debris. Photo: AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi

Swedish authorities are ready, if asked, to quickly assist Italy as it recovers from a deadly earthquake.

We harmed Sweden's teachers and should apologize: prof
A tired pupil at a school in Stockholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

"The situation is very worrying," says Professor Jonas Linderoth.

US keeper kicked off team for calling Swedes cowards
Hope Solo made her comments after Sweden knocked the US team out of the Olympics. Photo: Eugenio Savio/AP

The US team will be Hope-less for six months.

Five must-see cultural events in Sweden this weekend
Like The Bridge? You'll love one of the events we've picked out for this weekend. Photo: Erland Vinberg/TT

The summer is almost over but Sweden saved the best for last with these cultural events this weekend – including one that will make The Bridge fans happy.

Was there a secret plot to kill Swedish ex-UN chief?
Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN's Secretary General, pictured months before his death in 1961. Photo: TT

Ban Ki-moon wants to find out.

Joe Biden to arrive in Sweden for refugee talks
Stefan Löfven meets Joe Biden during a visit to Washington in March 2015. Photo: Monica Enqvist/Government Offices of Sweden

US Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Stockholm on Wednesday evening ahead of talks with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven that are expected to focus on migration and refugees.

Sponsored Article
Malmö to host global skateboard championship
Gallery
People-watching: August 24th
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
The Local Voices
'I want to be a businesswoman but I don’t care about money'
National
Experts: Gothenburg grenade blast is 'part of a cycle of violence'
Blog updates

23 August

A Summer in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"For our first year here in Sweden we decided to have all our holidays in Sweden.…" READ »

 

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
The mystique of Asia - in the middle of Stockholm
Gallery
Property of the week: Karlsborg
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
National
Why Sweden could change its criticised detention laws
National
Watch this dog's reaction when she tries Swedish fermented herring
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th-21st
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
How to find student housing in Sweden
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
National
VIDEO: Swede films first Northern Lights of the season
Gallery
People-watching: August 17th
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Society
Swedish population nears ten million
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
The Local Voices
This Syrian artist found love in a Swedish library
National
Sex pigs halt traffic after laser attack on Pokémon teens. Only in Sweden.
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
Gallery
Property of the week: Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
Drunk knight detained in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Can you solve this Swede's strange Star Wars mystery?
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th-14th
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
Swedes cheer first snow of the season
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Gallery
People-watching: August 10th
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
The Local Voices
Syrian presenter: Swedish media should make more shows in Arabic
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Travel
Watch the meteor shower in Sweden
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Lifestyle
How to survive a crayfish party
Gallery
IN PICS: Your Sweden summer snaps
The Local Voices
Gabriel mastered Swedish and got accepted onto a medicine degree in just 7 months
3,376
jobs available