Oct 25 2007

Swedish tax authorities wants customer records from ISP:s

Published by under Privacy

The Swedish tax authorities (IRS), Skatteverket, has lately started to look into home pages that they think generate revenue via banner income and now wants to force Swedish ISP:s to release their customers records.

Swedish ISP Bahnhof is one of several companies that received a request from Swedish IRS to release customer records between 2004-2006 and have specific been asked to release following:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Personal code (identity) number
  • Date for check-in
  • Date for check-out
  • Total billing amount
  • Server type and IPs
  • List of domains hosted
  • Host configuration files

To be mentioned is that Swedish IRS is not asking for specific customers records that they believe have participated in any kind of criminal act – they are asking to get what ever they can get and then poke around until they stumble over something of interest.

Bahnhof:s CEO Jon Karlung says in an interview that they have no reason of releasing such information due to that it would be against the Swedish law (the law about electronic communication). Even if they will be fined 80 000 USD for not comply with the request made by the IRS. Jon Karlung also says that they don’t oppose to release specific information about customers if the IRS (or any other authorities for that matter) can show suspicion about ongoing criminal activities. This is not the case here since the IRS want to harvest ISP customer records for what they define as suspicious economical activities.

Swedish IRS spokesperson, Dag Hardyson, is confident that Bahnhof will release the requested information even if this case has to go to county administrative court and says that he has full confidence in the injunction made towards Bahnhof and that the injunction itself is according to the Swedish laws and don’t want to make any comments to Bahnhof:s legal interpretation and says that he has full confidence with their legal department interpretation and recommendations.

All in all it seems that our privacy is more and more compromised on a national and EC level and in the name of fighting terrorist and criminal activities. Don’t get me wrong here; I fully agree that we should fight activities that threaten our community. But it seems that all laws that wouldn’t be passed 10 years ago due to privacy intrusion gets fast tracked and passed.

To wrap it all up, the problem is also that we have two different laws that collide with each other and by that there is a deadlock regarding this entire story until it has been seattled in court. So I’m looking forward to see what happens next.

Kim Haverblad

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