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Lexbase set to reopen from California: report

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A user performs a search on Lexbase.se. File photo: Per Larsson/TT
17:31 CET+01:00
Controversial website Lexbase, which lets Swedes pay to see their neighbours' criminal records, is set to reopen from servers in the United States with operators convinced it will make them "really rich".

The people behind the site see it as "their big chance to become really rich", a source told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper on Wednesday.

In three days of operation, Lexbase generated three million kronor ($464,000) in revenues, several independent sources told the newspaper. But the site's operators only paid around 900,000 kronor to the Swedish Courts Administration (Domstolverket) for access to court records that were in turn sold to Lexbase users.

"They're dreaming of being millionaires and have said they won't be satisfied until they've earned hundreds of millions [of kronor]," the source told DN.

Lexbase operators are planning to relaunch the site once technical bugs have been fixed, the source said. The site's IP number is now connected to an internet service provider in California.

First launched in late January, Lexbase allowed users to look up a friend's, colleague's or neighbour's criminal record in Sweden, and to get an overview of their neighbourhood, with red dots signaling the presence of convicted criminals on a map. For a fee, users could also download court documents related to criminal convictions.

But Lexbase's launch was marred by controversy and technical problems, with privacy advocates crying foul and the site being shuttered by a hacker attack. A Lexbase spokesperson also received death threats. The site was ultimately closed just three days after its launch due to concerns about the site's security.

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At the time, the head of Sweden's Data Protection Board (Datainspektionen) used an op-ed in DN to voice her concern that Sweden's constitution needs to be updated to help resolve the "undeniable paradox that anyone who has a website and a publishing licence can freely handle information in a way that police are prohibited from doing".

Hundreds of Swedes also filed defamation claims against Lexbase claiming their privacy had been violated or that the site had faulty information about their alleged criminal past. However, Sweden's Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern) has said it will likely take months to determine whether or not any criminal charges will be filed.

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