The Stockholm police officers accidentally included the phone number of a regular Swede in their group chat on WhatsApp, a thread in which they shared private information about ongoing investigations. They later said they used WhatsApp, rather than calling each other, because it helped them communicate quickly as they were working.
But somehow, Jan Svärdhagen, a professor at the Dalarna University College, was included in their chat.
“I've been getting police case information, pictures, and personal information about the people that the police are looking for," Svärdhagen told the IT magazine Computer Sweden. "I have even seen excerpts about these people from the crime register.”
The professor said he was very much aware that he had been given access to sensitive information, and said the police should be relieved that he, and not some wannabe criminal, had been included by mistake.
“This is definitely not information intended for my eyes. But you could say that the police got lucky this time, this could have been sent to someone who wanted to exploit it illegally.”
Svärdhagen contacted the police to alert them to the mistake, but received no response, only more WhatsApp messages. The incessant pinging started last week, in fact, hadnt stopped since the first message came through last week.
When Computer Sweden reached one of the officers, he explained that they were simply testing new methods of correspondence.
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“Goodness me, what can I say" the police officer said. "This is deeply unfortunate, of course, that such information came to light like this. I truly apologize. It was me who wrote down the wrong number and I’ll be taking responsibility for it."
Police spokeswoman Towe Hägg told the Expressen newspaper on Friday that the police heads had been notified about the leak.