Swedish Data Inspection Protects Messy Apartment Dwellers

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The Swedish housing corporation Eslövs Bostads AB is not allowed to use log files collected from its electronic key system to keep track of who has made a mess in the common washing machine room, according to the local Data Inspection Board.

Wash rooms (similar to laundromats) shared among residents are commonplace in Sweden, in both rental buildings and condominiums, and are almost always a source for arguments, with neighbors communicating using only angry Post-it notes. But Eslövs Bostads AB took it too far when the company started using entry-key logs, which are saved for two weeks, to keep track of washing machine room activities.

The Swedish Data Inspection Board has sent an injunction telling it to stop. "Electronic keys should be used to open and lock doors. Our fundamental attitude is that you should be restrictive in how you use logs," said Göran Gräslund, director general at the board.

He also is not pleased that the housing corporation did not inform residents on how it planned to use information from the logs.

The Swedish Data Inspection Board is a public authority; its task is to protect the individual's privacy in the information society without unnecessarily preventing or complicating the use of new technology.

It recently made the news, as it will help oversee safeguards that will protect Swedes' rights as authorities listen in on all wired traffic that crosses national borders. The heavily criticized law that made the wire-tapping possible was approved by the Swedish parliament last month.

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