Photo: Nick Näslund/Sveriges Radio.

Website provides names of women under threat

A Swedish credit report website has come under criticism for making easily available information about women who may be threatened or using a hidden identity. 

Ratsit is one of many Swedish websites that offer credit reports and other personal information, some parts free of charge, other information for a fee. But Swedish Radio News has discovered that anyone, without even a login to the site, can gain access to information like the names of women who have contact with women’s hotlines, or who live at women’s shelters.

Even the names of inmates at this country’s prisons and other institutions is readily available.

Anne Asp, chief of police in Norrköping, has worked actively with issues of threatened women. “I can hardly believe that this is true”, she tells Swedish Radio News. I didn’t think this was possible. It is completely devastating for women who need protection.

Angela Beausang, president of the national organization of women’s hotlines in Sweden, agrees. “This is a question of integrity,” she says. Anyone can see if a woman lives at a shelter. That’s something only the woman herself should be able to disclose, it shouldn’t be freely available in this kind of database.”

Ratsit pays government agencies for the records in its database. Last week Radop Sweden reported on criticism that public authorities here are selling such information, and the Data Inspection Board has expressed concern.

The head of Ratsit, Anders Johansson, tells Swedish Radio News that the issue of protecting women at risk is completely new for him. He says the credit report company’s purpose is to help customers make secure business deals:

“We’ll have to take a look at this information you’re giving us,” he says, "and see what it means and how we should deal with it.” He says they handle personal information in compliance with the law and supervisory agencies.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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