Sweden ‘breaking EU privacy rules’

Sweden is breaking EU law by making people's personal details public, according to a lawyer who is suing the Swedish state.

The state is being taken to court by a man from Stockholm who received a demand for payment from the Swedish Enforcement Authority (Kronofogden), which was acting on behalf of someone who wanted to exact revenge on the man.

Despite the fact that a court dismissed the claim, the man remained on a national non-payment blacklist for three years. The list was available to the public, as Sweden’s constitution stipulates that almost all official documents must be made available. But making such details public can make it harder for people to get loans, apartments and jobs.

“The state earns money by selling information on Swedes’ private lives to credit rating companies. Anybody can, with no other reason than pure curiosity, get their hands on the information spread by the Swedish Enforcement Authority. This is a clear breach of EU Directive 94/96,” said the man’s lawyer, Tiburtius Förster.

The directive protects individuals’ right to personal integrity. Sweden has excluded the Swedish Enforcement Authority’s work from the scope of the directive, arguing that the constitutional freedom of speech laws take precedence. Förster disagrees with the state, and has filed a lawsuit with the Solna Disctrict Court.

“If we win against the Swedish state it will allow the nearly 900,000 other people who are registered in the database to go to court,” he said.