Stockholm Chronicles part 23: Goodbye, Privacy

This´ll be a rant because I´m pretty angry. 

I know, I know… If you move to a country you have to try and fit in, accept the culture and habits etc. etc.. I live abroad since 5 years now, so I´m quite clear on that. However, there is one thing that goes way too far. The sharing of my private information online. I know, Sweden and actually all Scandinavian countries for that matter, are very open places. But why on gods green earth does my address, birth date, car registration or salary have to be displayed for everyone? Why would ANYONE be interested in this information if they´re not out to harm or scam me? This is just an open invite for criminals, stalkers and psychos to make it easier for them. And of course advertisement but more about that later.

Even the European Union is looking at Sweden because of this being in violation of data protection laws for private persons.

How does this system work though? Once you register with Skatteverket to get your ID card, your info is out there. There is no way around it because to have a life in Sweden you need an ID card. You can´t even buy a nut without someone asking for your person number. Skatteverket then spread the info to PRIVATE companies and data mining services like hitta.se or ratsit.se, so they can put it up on their websites. I mean, come on: Before moving to Sweden I did not even have my birthday visible for people I hadn´t added on Facebook. Also, it is a HUGE difference if I personally make the concious decision to share selected data with people I actually know. Now everyone and their mother can look up all the stuff about me. This is deeply disturbing and scary for me, coming from a country where privacy is one THE top concerns.

I have heard all the arguments of people saying that it´s part of the culture or it´s to make sales and purchases safer and so on. This statement could not be further from the actual truth. All this information is being used mainly by companies for advertisement. Cold calls about products and services or personalized adverts from companies directly to your door. I always wondered: “Where did they get the information from?!” A friend of mine told me about that the info is available online, so I looked it up and boom: It was all there.

I have now started to contact these data mining services and ask them to remove my information from their websites. I am prepared for a long, long fight because I´m sure they will try every trick in the book to keep it online.

Don´t get me wrong: Sweden is fantastic and I love it here but dear Swedes… What did you think when you created this system, killing privacy for everyone?!

/rant over

Catch ya later,

Stefan


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