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Snoop site removes last four digits

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14:22 CET+01:00
Credit rating website ratsit.se has bowed to pressure and removed the final four figures from the personal identification numbers of the people whose income details are given out.

By taking away this sensitive piece of information Ratsit has gone a step further than the tax authorities.

National Tax Board spokesman Björn Tennholt said the Tax Board will agree to spill the beans on someone's income if they are given a name. A personal identification number is not needed.

“A name is enough, unless it is a very common name. Then you will need an address too,” Tennholt told The Local.

In other words the Tax Board will furnish you with precisely the same information as the private website. But the government authority will also throw in your neighbour's last four figures for good measure.

Much of the criticism directed at Ratsit has surrounded the fact that it does not notify a person that somebody has been snooping in their income records.

But does the Tax Board send out a notification to let you know you have a nosy neighbour who has tried to find out how much you earned last year?

“No,” said Tennholt.

Sten Eriksson, communications director at the Tax Board is aware of a paradox in Swedish transparency.

“In our open society we have to make public information available.

“The flipside is that people can use the information for business purposes. Sometimes our open society works the other way.

“We are discussing the phenomenon at the Tax Board. This debate isn't over,” Eriksson told The Local.

Ratsit claims that its main purpose is to facilitate business deals between private persons, and between companies and private persons.

But 9.8 million page views last Friday would suggest that the level of anonymity offered by the internet has simply made it slightly easier to pry.

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