With the red dot on a map, the website indicates if an ex-convict live in the neighbourhood. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Neighbours criminal records viewed online

Legal expert: "This may violate the personal data act"
1:23 min

Has your neighbour been convicted of rape? How many ex-convicts live on your street? A controversial new offender database allowing the general public to access information on past convicted sexual offenders and other serious ex-felons was launched today in Sweden.

The offender database, started by the Swedish company Lexbase, allows searches by name or personal ID-number, but also by street or area. Past offenders are marked with a red dot, and after paying a fee, the court sentences can be downloaded in full, the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reports.

Lexbase spokesperson, Pontus Ljunggren said the company recognizes that the service is likely to receive criticism.

"It can be just like everything else being abused , but we can't take responsibility for what people do," said Ljunggren.

Still, Johan Åberg, a lawyer with interest in defamation cases, sees problems.

According to Åberg, there are also ethical concerns. Should someone who has been convicted and served his sentence still be getting this negative attention? In the U.S., sex offenders have been attacked - and killed - since the information about them reached their neighbours.

"I think we have a different society than the U.S.," says Ljunggren.

The company launched the service as a way for people to protect themselves.

"A woman who is going on a date can conclude that this guy has five convictions for rape or assaulting his former girlfriend. We give confidence to make a choice," says Ljunggren.

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