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IP Address
35.175.182.106
Internet provider
Amazoncom
NOT SECURE
Your Internet provider can track your Internet activity.
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Privacy Laws in Sweden

IVPN customers in Sweden trust us every day with their increasing demand for privacy and security. Understand why privacy is such an important issue for customers in Sweden.

Data Retention by ISPs

Sweden passed its own Data Retention Act in 2012, which forces all Swedish ISPs to record user information, such as login times, email logs and websites visited, and store the data for at least six months. ISPs in Sweden are required to archive personal information so that the, “data can be transmitted upon request to the competent authorities without undue delay”[1]. The ability to retain information was supposedly to help police fight crime[2]. There had initially been resistance by the Swedish government to the data retention law due to privacy concerns[3].

However, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered a judgment in December 2016 whereby it struck down Sweden’s Data Retention Act as being entirely inconsistent with the applicable provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (known as case C-203/15, Tele 2, Sverige AB v Post-och Telestyrelsen)[4]. The case arose when the the Swedish ISP Tele 2 stopped collecting data on its customers and was found to be in contravention of the Act by the district administrative court. Tele 2 appealed the decision to the Sweden’s Administrative Court of Appeal, which in turn referred the case to the ECJ. The ECJ held in its decision that the Swedish law was in contravention of Articles 7 (privacy) and 8 (protection of personal data) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as being in possible violation of Article 11 (freedom of expression) of the said Charter.

This ECJ decision was in line with an April 2014 decision by the same court which declared the European Data Retention Directive to be a gross violation of privacy rights under European law and, therefore, was declared to be invalid[5]. Amazingly, the Swedish government at the time chose to ignore this 2014 ECJ decision on the basis that the Swedish law was in fact better-written than the EU directive itself! Nor has the EU directive been successfully implemented in all member states. As many as ten EU countries have chosen to either not implement the directive, or have implemented it but had the applicable legislation subsequently overturned in the respective country’s constitutional court[6].

Digital Copyright Laws

Sweden possesses very stringent copyright law as enshrined in its Act on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works of 1960, as amended in 2000[7]. In 2009 Sweden passed the anti-copyright theft directive IPRED into law. IPRED allows copyright holders to force Swedish ISPs, through a court order, to reveal the personal information of users under suspicion of sharing copyrighted files[8]. Sweden’s over-zealous attitude to copyright protection was exemplified when Sweden’s Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that organisations and individuals do not have the right to post images of public works of art on Wikimedia without the permission of the artist[9]. The highest court in the country ruled against the group Offentligkonst.se, an open database which contains maps, descriptions, and photos of works of art which are permanently located in public places. The court held that even ‘innocent snaps’ of these artworks were a contravention of Swedish copyright law.

Freedom of Speech and Censorship

Sweden is generally a country regarded to have a high degree of freedom of speech and freedom from censorship for its citizens. However, that halcyon view of Swedish freedoms has come under increasing attack by some analysts in recent years. It is claimed that freedom of speech has been detailed due to many caveats upon its use, especially owing to crushing political correctness and the need ‘not to offend’[10]. There has also been an all-out war against many different forms of so-called hate speech.

Our Take

Sweden’s online privacy continues to be under potential threat, whether by intrusive governments or overt political correctness. Therefore, Swedes will need to be careful about their rights to privacy.

Interested in other countries? See our Comparison of Internet Privacy Laws page.

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