Trash spies barred from taking digital photos

'Garbage spies' employed to take digital pictures of people incorrectly recycling their rubbish have been told by Stockholm county court that the practice must stop.

In its ruling the court cited Sweden’s personal data law, which says that only state authorities are allowed to handle personal information digitally when it comes to breaking the law.

The company which organizes the collection and sorting of garbage for recycling, FTI, was ordered last year by the Data Inspection Board to stop snapping careless recyclers and processing information about them.

FTI appealed the decision to the county court. But the company complied with the board’s wishes and stopped using digital cameras.

The restrictions have also meant that the company has had to use old-fashioned typewriters when reporting crimes.

“We hardly report anything to the police any more since we can’t afford to employ people who can use a typewriter,” CEO John Strand told Svenska Dagbladet.

FTI manages some 6,000 recycling points across the country. But every year the company spends many millions of kronor sorting out items which have been placed in the wrong green container, or which should never have been submitted for recycling at all.

To reduce the cost, FTI employed people to watch over the stations and equipped them with digital cameras so they could present evidence against the miscreants.

But the Data Inspection Board’s decision, signed by director general Göran Gräslund, made clear that there could be no exceptions from the law.