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Site unmasks hidden info on Swedish celebs

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12:56 CEST+02:00
High profile Swedish politicians and prosecutors, famous artists and other celebrities with unlisted telephone numbers and addresses can all be found using a website designed to help people remember friends' birthdays – and there's nothing the notables can do about it.

Those who ask to be removed from Birthday.se have so far had their requests denied.

“It's not our database. We cannot and may not change it. So either we get rid of everything or we don't get rid of any,” said Patric Örner, the CEO of Berlock Information, which operates the site to the TT news agency.

That Birthday.se publishes the addresses of people with unlisted numbers has been known since the site was launched in the spring of 2006.

But the storm of criticism quickly died down when the company said it would change the site's search function.

However, it's still possible to look up celebrity's addresses. The only difference is that now users must register themselves as a member of the site, which takes a matter of seconds.

Once logged in, users can with a few keystrokes a couple clicks of their mouse find the home addresses of any of a number TV stars, government ministers and other famous – and not-so-famous Swedes, with unlisted addresses and phone numbers.

More established directory sites such as Eniro.se and Hitta.se filter out addresses.

“It's an agreement we have with the operators. If you've requested secret number, that information should remain hidden,” said Eniro spokesperson Emma Grönlund.

But Berlock Information has chosen not to follow the practice. And those who contact the company and ask to have their information removed, which Örner says amounts to very few people, are refused.

According to Örner, the main purpose of Birthday.se is to help people remember the birthdays of their friends and family members.

And without identifying people via their home addresses, it would be difficult for the site to fulfill its mission, he explained.

“There are a lot of Thomas Erikssons in Stockholm and many Linda Johanssons in Gothenburg,” said Örner.

The site has about 100,000 unique visitors every week, according to Örner, and is financed by advertising revenues – including ads purchased by Sweden's main telephone operator, Telia.

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