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Criminal Record Database Site Shuts Down After Online Leak

posted 30 Jan 2014, 10:43 by Mpelembe   [ updated 30 Jan 2014, 10:43 ]

Lexbase, a controversial criminal record website, is closed after a hacker attack causes information on more than 100,000 people to leak online.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN (JANUARY 29, 2014) (TV4) -  The controversial website Lexbase, on which people can see their neighbours' criminal records, was closed on Thursday (January 30) after a hacker attack caused around 100,000 Swedes' personal information to leak online.

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Internet service provider Bahnhof, which rented server space to Lexbase, decided to close the database due to security problems and has also decided to cancel the contract.

The Lexbase database, which was launched on Monday (January 27), included both those convicted and acquitted in Swedish courts.

It contained data on more than 100,000 people and could be downloaded by anyone. The data included addresses, citizenship and map co-ordinates and in addition, thousands of court judgements were made available.

After browsing the site, registered users could pay a fee and download court documents.

Magnus Wahlberg said it was very easy for a normal computer user to access the information.

"I haven't paid, I haven't logged in, nothing, just what one types in as a normal user," said the internet user, adding: "There are few 13-year-olds who wouldn't be able to do it."

"Wilhelm", who did not want to reveal his real name, had been freed after having been prosecuted for minor possession of narcotics, and now he was worried that his name might appear on the site.

He said he felt "unsafe" and that he was concerned about his future.

"Yes, it can radically change one's life," he said.

Lexbase sparked controversy from the moment it was launched.

Some have called for changes in the constitution to ensure that protection measures are in place to ensure that the press and publishers do not overrule personal information laws.

"As a rule, the Office of the Chancellor of Justice puts these types of libel notifications to the side, the public society should not step in, apart from in extraordinary circumstances, to push for an individual's case," said Nils Funcke, an expert on Freedom of Speech.

There could be a police investigation into the site itself, but Funcke said he did not think it would lead anywhere.

"Legally one can't do anything, but one can try to convince those responsible for running the website to change or remove the site," Funcke said.

Sweden's Data Protection Board said the constitution needed to be updated so that anyone with a website and a publishing licence should not be able to freely handle information.

Sweden's Justice Minister Beatrice Ask expressed caution about the suggestions to change the constitution.

"One has to be careful of rocking the foundations of the constitution. Of course we have to see what will be the consequences of (adapting) new technology and new conditions," she said.

The people behind the site, who defended it as an extension to Sweden's freedom of information law, have not been available for comment.