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Lassbo said she used Ratsit once "because I wanted to see what it said about me." But her curiosity got the better of her: "Then I checked friends and celebrities."
"I do think our service is justified because things like wages should be transparent," said Ratsit's chief executive, Anders Johansson. Employers use it to check whether potential hires are in debt, he said, and "a lot of people use it to negotiate their pay."
Ratsit's service was made possible by a 2003 change in the law protecting media freedom, which allowed online sites to get publishing rights. That enabled Ratsit to become one of Sweden's most popular sites, but also one of the most controversial.
The Data Inspection Board was inundated with complaints, "like an avalanche," said Karnlof.
Apart from the privacy issue, fears that the online openness would aid identity thieves also pushed the National Tax Board into action.
While the law obliges the board to give out tax information, it doesn't say in what form. So tax authorities simply threatened to supply the information on paper, instead of electronically, which would have forced credit checkers to scan millions of records.
To avoid the hassle, the companies agreed to the new restrictions on how the material is accessed.
Before the new rules kicked in a week ago, Ratsit's traffic nearly tripled to over 140,000 hits a day, said Johansson, the company boss.
Ratsit expects credit-snooping to fall off by half, but is offering new attractions, such as a "singles index" showing how many people in a particular ZIP code live alone. It plans to include phone numbers.
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