New rules proposed to criminalize 'net hate'

5:22 min

To combat "net hate" a government investigator has proposed that spreading sex tapes or information about other people's health should be punished under harassment laws. 

Among several proposals presented to the Minister for Justice Wednesday, investigator Gudrun Antemar suggested creating a new category of crime that would punish the unlawful infringement of privacy by which charges could be brought against individuals who spread sex tapes or sensitive information about someone's health online.

Anyone who facilitates the spreading of that information should also be made liable, according to the proposal. This means that individuals who maintain forums and blogs are made legally responsible for removing hate speech. Antemar also suggests expanding the definition of what legally constitutes "unlawful threat."

Antemar spoke with Radio Sweden Wednesday about balancing concern for privacy rights with freedom of speech.

"The internet allows you to cache information, to spread it, to store it, and it will never go away," said Antemar. "The internet is fantastic as an arena for communication, but it has its disadvantages. People who want to hurt other people's integrity have the technology to do that."

Antemar said that it was important to update the laws regarding stalking, harassment, and hate crimes because many of them originated from legislation passed in the 1960s.

"We try to clarify them, to simplify them so it will be very clear for you and me and everybody what is OK to do and what is not," she said.

The new proposal for unlawful violation of privacy would include provisions about what Antemar described as "people who can't keep together like people who are suicidal...."

Can't anyone then say they're vulnerable?

"No, because we say that the spreading [of information] has to be not anything. It has to really hurt your sense of privacy. So it's not just spreading because that will be sort of censorship. You have to be really affected by the spreading. So if you take health care, it's OK to spread that you have the flu but it's not OK to spread that you have a sexually transmitted disease or having a sex life. That's your private life," said Antemar.