Why should expats in Sweden improve their privacy ?
10 things to do for more privacy in Sweden
Swedish businesses and institutions attract thousands of co-workers (expats) to Sweden every year. For newbies (new residents), Swedish open society and transparency can be a new concept. In this new environment, new opportunities (and new risks) are on the horizon. Swedish attitude to citizen privacy is basically a trust system(!) For those of you who want to secure your personal data, new ways and tactics are needed to guard your privacy.
As a well-informed citizen, you’ll probably already know that by being part of the “open society” in Sweden, your personal data is by default exposed online. It is available to anyone on the planet with an internet access.
Too many have fallen into the trap of “I have nothing to hide”. Unfortunately, privacy is important for everyone; whether you are aware of it or not. Lack of privacy will eventually get to all of us if we are not careful. Having your personal data and other personal content exposed online, you will be exposed to an inherent risk of someone trying to take advantage of.
In this blog post, we describe the most common actions you can initiate to guard your privacy. See it as a your privacy Smörgåsboard: Take what feels right for you and apply it.
1. Block Address Change at Skatteverket
Fraudsters changing a person’s home address in order to hijack that person’s identity has become increasingly common in recent years. The Swedish Tax Agency, Skatteverket has created the possibility to block unauthorised persons from changing their address. You can choose to have only changes of address made with an e-ID such as BankId or Freja-ID accepted. This reduces the risk of someone using your personal data for fraud and identity theft. Only you can activate or remove the block.
Read more in this blog post prevent a fraud with your address.
2. Block Address Change at Addressändering
We have a detailed blogpost about Adressändring here.
Adressändring.se is a service that allows you to send your mail temporarily to another location, e.g. your vacation home. They claim the service is widely used by regular folks. Sadly, fraudsters like to use it too.
You can order an address lock directly on their website. Unfortunately it is not possible to set an address lock without providing Adressändring with your phone number and email. In our humble view, this unfortunate policy is adding insult to the injury. We therefore do not recommend using Adressändring.se website or services.
Our recommendation is to get you digital mailbox where you will receive mails digitally from a governmental bodies.
3. Get unlisted from Internet directories
One highly invasive aspect of the open society here in Sweden is the fact that population register is public. Businesses with a publishing licence publish your personal data without your consent. Internet directories like Ratsit, Hitta, MerInfo, MrKoll, Birthday.se and Eniro publish personal data of almost everyone in the Swedish population register.
The transparency is a high public good here. At the moment, it enjoys strong legal standing in Sweden.
Nevertheless smart expats request from the companies running the internet directories to remove/delete their personal data. Learning how-to guard your privacy and protect your personal data is a good investment of your time. Digital hygiene is a sensible measure for all of us living in a digital age.
In our blog you’ll find detailed guides to help you protect your privacy in Sweden by getting unlisted from the internet directories in Sweden.
Our service page you’ll find our privacy services designed to help you restore your privacy in Sweden. We at MyPrivacy.se help people by requesting removal from internet directories in Sweden and Google & Bing Search engines.
4. Avoid owning a car
Looking at the situation with your privacy and safety here in Sweden, it is advisable not to NOT own a car. Just as the population register is public in Sweden, so is the car register. There are website like biluppgifter where every car registered in Sweden can be looked up.
Multiple scams have been enabled using personal data provided through the car. One example is burglars who targeted well-off Indian and Pakistani migrants. They looked up car details of families while they entered a shopping mall. Knowing that many well-off people have some cash and jewellery at home, the would break into the homes while the family was out shopping.
Your mobility is a personal choice and decision. Too often it makes sense to drive a vehicle for multi reasons. As privacy evangelists, we try to spread awareness about potential privacy risks.
We’d suggest privacy-preserving alternatives:
- Walking/Bicycle / E-bikes (Most places in Sweden have a great infrastructure to ride a bike. Take advantage of it for and ride a bike when possible. It’s the best for your health, climate and bank account too.)
- Ride sharing with your friends, neighbours and colleagues
- Public transport (Some public transport apps in Sweden are asking for way too much personal data from users only to provide a ride)
- Smart Car Sharing
- Rental cars (For the occasional trip There are great models available and it is way cheap
- Company car (where the business leases a car)
- Some premium car plates seem excluded from the search. To be updated.
Electric scooter companies collect a ton of data on all the locations you visit. When you signed up, you must agree to their privacy policies granting them and their partners right to use, sell and commercially exploit your data. As such (from privacy perspective), these are not recommended.
5. Avoid owning a pet
Your animal will be ID-marked with a chip. It will be registered in a publicly available data base and personally identifiable data will be online.
6. Avoid going to a court
All court cases are public. Websites like Lexbase publish trial details. Your personally identifiable data will be online.
7. Watch your digital footprint
This chapter warrants a separate blog post. There are 1,000s of businesses trying to track almost every action we do online. You can stop this by not providing consent. From now on, take time and instead of agreeing: DISAGREE to all cookies
Other things you can do for more privacy online:
- Install an Ad Blocker
- Never click on an add
- Practise Digital Hygiene
- Be conscious what you post online
- Take time to educate yourself about online safety.
- DISAGREE to all cookies
8. Phone line
Most phone companies in Sweden share your phone number in a publicly available database. That convenience means that you can look up someone online by entering their phone number. And in a transparent country you will find all information about the Swedish resident online.
Recommended Privacy actions:
- If you can get a phone (SIM Card) from your employer.
- Look for a provider the does’t share your phone number with information services. See our Partner page for further details and recommendations.
- When outside of your home, turn off the WiFi on your mobile phone. Companies track your location using the WiFi signal.
9. Protect yourself from fraud with your address with a digital mailbox
This is one of the easiest and most important actions you can do. It will make frauds less likely. Having a secure digital mailbox for government mail is another step to strengthen your privacy protection in Sweden. The service is free and you get your government mails digitally (It is quicker than regular mail) and more environmentally friendly.
More information about digital mailbox for government mail can be found in Swedish here. More info about it on our blog.
10. Structure your income
A Swedish tax resident can sometimes get an exemption on income earned abroad. In some cases income earned abroad doesn’t get published by Skatteverket. It can be (welcome) additional privacy e.g Some IT professionals can use it to negotiate better consulting fees.
Disclaimer: We are not qualified advisors an this is not tax advice. This is an idea for you to explore with a authorized professional
Further privacy considerations
Sweden allows anyone to get records for any property from the land office. The record shows the current owner, size, location, last selling price and date.