Privacy sacrificed for service at local Swedish council

The municipal council Örebro in central Sweden has announced that new routines will allow private e-mails to written to council staff can be read by anyone at the office. The new routines - in force from September 1st - are intended to improve efficiency.

“We recently developed routines which mean that you (a council employee) delegate the responsibility for your inbox when you go on holiday,” said Catharina Centerfjäll at Örebro county council to local newspaper Nerikes Allehanda.

The new routines have been introduced to improve service between citizens and council offices. The council promises to issue a response within five days.

Some fear that the move will harm the integrity and compromise the right to privacy for private individuals and council employees.

“If you consider your council work emails to be private mail then maybe you need to reconsider,” Centerfjäll told Nerikes Allehanda.

Centerfjäll agreed however that the new routines could be construed by some as controversial.

“There will certainly be some discussion, yes. But you have to understand that we work in public office,” she said.

The council’s “accessibility guarantee” will come into force for the 10,000 employees of the Örebro municipality on September 1st.

The guarantee aims to develop better service for the inhabitants of the town and promote a more open dialogue.