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Swedish PM to reshuffle government following the data leak of citizens

posted onJuly 27, 2017

The Swedish Government has suffered a “disastrous” data leak, according to the country’s Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven. Mr Lofven confirmed at a press conference on Monday that his administration potentially exposed the personal information of millions of Sweden’s citizens.  Affected data included confidential data about defence plans, military personnel, witness protection details, the weight capacity of all roads and bridges, and much more.

The leak happened in September 2015, when the Swedish Transport Agency (STA) decided to outsource the management of its database and other IT services to companies such as IBM in the Czech Republic, and NCR in Serbia. The entire STA database was uploaded onto cloud servers belonging to these two companies, and some employees got full access to the database.

According to Reuters, most vehicles on land, air and sea in Sweden are registered with the STA, and whistleblowers have raised concerns that information about vehicles used by the armed forces and the police may have ended up in the wrong hands.

There is no suggestion that IBM Sweden, the outsourced company with which the data was shared, was in the wrong - and the tech giant declined to comment, the BBC reported.

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Although the data breach happened in 2015, Swedish Secret Service discovered it in 2016 and started investigating the incident, which led to the fire of STA director-general Maria Ågren in January 2017. Agren was fined 70,000 Swedish krona ($8,500).

Rick Falkvinge, Pirate Party founder and head of privacy at Private Internet Access wrote in a blog “The responsible director has been found guilty in criminal court of the whole affair, and sentenced to the harshest sentence ever seen in Swedish government: she was docked half a month’s paycheck...Let’s be clear: if a common mortal had leaked this data through this kind of negligence, the penalty would be life in prison. But not when done by the government themselves.”

Operations to ensure that only security-cleared staff have access to the data will be completed by the autumn, the Transport Agency's new director-general Jonas Bjelfvenstam said in a statement. The investigation into the scope of the leak is still ongoing.

UPDATE 27/07/2017 12:13

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he would reshuffle his minority government.

UPDATE 27/07/2017 20:01

Mr Lofven replaced his interior and infrastructure ministers. But he retained Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, defying opposition parties who had pressed for the removal of all three ministers, Reuters reported.

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