The Strategist

Swedish ministers face resignation due to a large-scale leakage of confidential data

07/27/2017 - 12:48

The Swedish government found itself in the center of a scandal involving one of the largest data leaks in the country in the last decade. In 2015, the Swedish transport agency handed over databases with confidential information, including information on drivers' rights to the Swedes, military vehicles and even emergency plans, to foreign IT professionals. Scandal can deprive three ministers of their posts; early elections are also possible.

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Several Swedish ministers may resign at once. In the near future the opposition is going to arrange a vote of no confidence for them because of a scandal involving a large-scale leak of data. The Swedish Parliament must vote yea or nay for a vote of no confidence with regard to the Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist, Interior Minister Anders Ygeman and Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson. According to observers, most likely they will have to resign. In addition, perhaps the pressure related to the scandal may force Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to announce early elections.

The scandal broke out after it became known that the transport agency was transmitting databases with information about vehicles, including military vehicles, as well as drivers' licenses of the Swedes to IBM IT specialists in Eastern Europe in 2015, as part of an outsourcing agreement for some services. At the same time, the rules regarding confidentiality and privacy were violated. As a result, some information could be compromised. However, the authorities say that they have no information about whether the leak caused any harm.

According to Mr. Löfven, he learned about the problem only in January this year, while the defense and interior ministers knew about the situation from the beginning of 2016. "What happened in the transport agency is a disaster. This is extremely serious and puts Sweden and Swedish citizens at risk," Prime Minister said in connection with the situation. Head of the transport agency, Maria Agren, resigned in January. Later, when the police began investigating the situation, Ms. Agren was fined 70 thousand Swedish kronor ($ 8.5 thousand) for negligence in handling confidential information.

According to representatives of the Swedish army, the transferred databases can contain information about military personnel, military vehicles and even contingency planning. According to the Swedish media, the leak could also affect data on persons suspected of crimes, information on the witness protection program, and addresses of military pilots. "Sweden's security has been threatened. Extremely sensitive data about people could get into the wrong hands, and the government cannot answer why it was not serious about the issue before", the leader of the main opposition party, the Moderate Coalition Party, Anna Kinberg Batra, said at a news conference. "The government has been aware of the leakage for two years. We want them to take responsibility," said Head of another opposition party, the "Swedish Democrats", Jimmie Åkesson.