Swedish Privacy Laws in Relation to Genealogy
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Historically some countries have taken the approach to records and privacy laws that “all government records are under privacy protection until permission is granted” to access them. Sweden has taken the opposite approach in that all records created by the state or municipalities should be considered accessible unless they are restricted under privacy laws.
The general rule in Sweden is that all information created by the state and municipalities has to be accessible by the public (2 kap 1 § tryckfrihetsförordningen, meaning chapter 2 Freedom of the Press.) There are many exceptions stated in the Sekretesslagen (Secrecy law, 1980:100) which was repealed with the Offentlighets- och sekretesslagen (Public Access to Information and Secrecy Law, 2009:400).
The privacy laws that protect personal confidential information in a general sense are limited up to 70 years. The 70 year rule is based upon when the record was created, even if the people mentioned are still living. Exceptions to the 70 year rule are given occasionally. In such cases it should be accompanied with a written statement that the information is for your own research and will not be shared with anyone else. 
Privacy Law and Swedish Genealogy[edit | edit source]
Generally a genealogist thinks of privacy laws as they relate to "record access" for records that were created for population registration. In Sweden these restrictions are controlled through the Offentlighets- och sekretesslagenIn. In a general sense the 70 year rule restricts the access to records (for example the Kyrkbok), but one can say that it only pertains to private personal matters. In Sweden general information such as: name, address, birth date, birthplace, and relationship are not considered private personal matters. Therefore one can request to see certain records that are less than 70 years old at the archive. Because of this, databases such as Sveriges Dödbok and Sveriges Befolkning are allowed to publish names, dates, and places. The 70 year rule is always applied for records that are loaned out from a Swedish archive in microfiche, microfilm, or digital form. 
Requesting information that is protected by privacy laws[edit | edit source]
To request information that is restricted by privacy laws a person must:
1. Make a request to see the protected document. This request is submitted to the archive that has the original record with legal responsibility for the record.
2. The request is examined by the same record authority. Within each archive there are specific individuals who handle the cases for request of information from records restricted by the privacy laws.
3. The government representative cannot ask who the requesting person is, or the purpose of the request, except to the extent that is necessary to rule on the impediments to the disclosure. The authority can then exercise judgement to provide information from the protected document or not. A decision made in the matter of privacy laws can be appealed to Kammarrätten.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Sverige har intagit motsatt inställning på så sätt att all information ska anses fri om den inte är begränsad i lag. Undantagen enligt lag är dock många. http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sekretess
- Släktforska steg för steg, p. 14
- Wiki-Rötter, Sekretessgräns
References[edit | edit source]
Clemensson, Per and Andersson, Kjell. Släktforska steg för steg. Falköping, Natur och Kultur/Fakta, 2005
Wikipedia Community. Sekretess. Swedish Wikipedia, March 2011
Wiki-Rötter Community. Sekretessgräns. Wiki-Rötter, March 2011