Every once in a while, a law appears that you have no idea how to relate to. You’re not sure how to tell the world about it: you will not just appear alarmist, but quite stark raving mad. Roswell Chemtrail Bilderberg Brainlaser van Roaming Loonie. And yet, there it is.
A new law was just proposed in Sweden, that would create a cross-referenced database over some of the most sensitive personal information of Swedish people: health issues, medical records, ethnic background, and trade union membership. That may not sound too bad, until you realize it’s a database over transgendered and medically weak (health issues / medical records), jews and gypsies* (ethnic background) and, well, trade union membership. It’s going to be about much more as well, surely, which doesn’t make it better in the slightest.
The law in question was just sent to the Legislative Council (lagrådet) for constitutional approval, before it is sent to Parliament for ratification. There have already been several op-eds speaking out about it – from youth wings of the political parties, not from the political parties themselves. The Swedish Data Inspection Board (Datainspektionen), which is the privacy watchdog authority, has been very critical: it says that it cannot approve such a database without the law even specifying any reason for the privacy violation, nor sees it as desirable to build it in the first place (which is very harsh words from an authority).
Unfortunately, the Swedish Data Inspection Board is routinely ignored in matters concerning privacy (which is its primary watchdog function).
I find it flabbergasting to see the naïveté with which such a law is proposed. The law and database is supposed to assist in employment policy research, but it’s not like any single database – once in place – has ever been confined to its original intention. Which reminds me – tomorrow, I’ll have an article about how every citizen of Sweden born after 1975 is in the world’s largest DNA register. The entire civilian population below 37 years of age.
When I see a law like this being proposed, I tend to just glance at history, shake my head in disbelief, and think “do we really have to go through all of this again?“.
*I do know the contemporary correct term for gypsies would probably be Roma or Romani, but pretty much nobody understands that word.