The Swedish Supreme Court recently tried a case in which the defendant had published offensive personal data regarding bank executives on a web page that belonged to a consumer organization. The case was tried under the Swedish Data Protection Act, which is based on EU Directive 95/46. Article 9 of the directive stipulates that data processing which is carried out solely for journalistic purposes must be exempted from the data protection provisions of each member state.

The Supreme Court found that even though the defendant was not a journalist in the strict sense of the word, the applicability of the Data Protection Act was nonetheless exempted in this case. However, the court acknowledged that if personal data is processed under this exemption and considered offensive, it should be tried under the criminal code.

The Supreme Court concluded that the scope of the exemption from the data protection provisions is to be interpreted as covering much more than a traditional definition of 'journalism' and 'freedom of the press'. Therefore, the exemption does not presume that the controller of personal data is a journalist. Rather, it is sufficient that the processing of personal data is a part of a debate on issues that are of general interest.

For further information on this topic please contact Agne Lindberg at Advokatfirman Delphi & Co by telephone (+46 8 677 54 00) or by fax (+46 8 20 18 84) or by e-mail ([email protected]).

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