APPLICATION/REQUÉTE N° 10473/83 Tom LUNDVALL v/SWEDEN Tam LLINDVALL c/SUÈD E DECISION of 11 December 1985 on the admissibility of the applicatio n DÉCISION du 11 décembre 1985 sur la recevabiHté de la requêt e Article 8 of the Convenfion : A system ofpersonal ideni4ty nuntbers interfres as such with neither .Article 8 nor arcu other provision of the Convention . As the p'otection of personal data is covered by this provision, the use of the systern may, however, a(fect the right to respect for private life .Thereisaninterferencewithaperson'srighttorespectforprivatelifewherehis name appears in a register of defaulting tax debtors to whieh the public has access and in spite of the fact that a tax appeal is pending. Interference here considet'ed necessary, beartn,q in mind local conditions, for the economic well-being of the country and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others . Article 25 of theConvend'on : ;!7ie Convention does not provide for an "actio populatis". An applicantmnst show that the measu.res complained of have been applied to his det;imentand that he has been directly aJiècted. Article 8 and Ardiele 25 of thé Convention : A person complaining of a aécision by which he is made liable to pay certain nues, decision allegedly taken in violation of his rght to respect for his private life, nmy not claim to be a victim of a violation of the Convention where the decision has been successfully appealed . Article 8 dela Convention : Pris en lui-même, lesystème des numéros d'identité persomielle n'enfreintni 1'aniele 8 ni aucune autre disposition de !a Convention. 5'on usage peut, cependant, affecter ledroit au respect de la vie privée, étant donné que la protection des données personnelles relève de cette disposition. 121 !1 y a ingérence dans l'exercice du droit au respect de la vie privée lorsque l'identité d'une personne figure dans un fichier de débiteurs fiscaux en demeure, alors qu'une procédure de recours fiscale est en cours et que le fichier est accessible au public. En l'espèce, ingérence jugée nécessaire, vu les usages locaux, au bien-être économique du pays et à la protection des droits et libertés d'autrui. Article 25 de la Convention : La Convention ne prévoit pas d'actio popularis . Le requérant doit montrer que les mesures dont il se p laint ont été appliquées à son détriment et qu'il en a subi directement les e,jfets. Article 8 et article 25 de la Convention : Ne peut pas se prétendre victime d'une violation de la Convention celui qui se plaint d'une décision d'imposition fiscale, prétendument obtenue en violation de son droit au respect de la vie privée, lorsque son recours contre cette décision a été couronné de succès. THE FACTS (français : voir p. 132) The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows. The applicant is a Swedish citizen born in 1951 and at present resident in Stockholm. He is represented before the Commission by Mr . Stefan Persson, a lawyer practising in Stockholm . The Particular Facts of the Case From 1975 up to the Summer of 1979 the applicant lived abroad. According to the Parish Office (pastorsdmbetet) the applicant was registered as living abroad from 19 February 1976 . When the applicant returned to Sweden in June 1979 he registered himself with the Social Security Office (allmïnna fbrsïkringskassan) in order to ensure that he would receive sickness benefits if he fell ill . The applicant's intention was to perform activity as an acupuncturist . However his plans were changed and he left Sweden on 2 November 1979 for Sri Lanka . Thereafter the applicant stayed abroad until June 1982 whën he returned to Sweden. In the spring of 1983 the applicant received notice from the Tax Board (taxeringsnëmnd) that his taxation for the income years 1979 and 1980 had been assessed in view of the fact that the applicant had not submitted any income tax return .Fortheincomeyear1979theTaxBoardhadasesedtheaplicant'sincom e at such an amount that he had to pay taxes in the amount of 65,827 Swedish Crowns . For the income year 1980 his income was considered to be such that he was ordered to pay 28,283 Swedish Crowns . The applicant submits that the only information on 122 which tha Tax Boardcould have based its decisions was the expected income which the applicant had iudicated to the Social Security Office in the suinmer 1979 when ie returned to Sweden and at the tme had the intention cf staying in Sweden . The applicant appealed against. the decisions of ttie Tax Board to the Re;ional Adminis[rative Court (ldnsrdtteni. On 25 November 198:3 the Regional Court decided to quash the decisions of the Tax Board, and the applicant was accordingly relievecl of the duty to pay any taxes for 1979 and 1980 . However in ttie meantime the applicant had been regi,tered as being in arrears with his raxes. Following the decision of the Tax Board, the applicant was legall.y under the obligation to pay the taxes which had been imposed ori him irrespective of the fact that he subsequentl), appealed against these decisions since he had not been granted a stay in the payment of the taxes . He was thus registered as being in arrears with his taxes. The register of taxes in arrears (restltingden) is seat to the Enforcement Offices (kronofogdemyndigheterna) in order to enforce the payment of the tax debts. This register does not contain any indication as to whether the taxation is subject ln atin appea.l or whether the taxation has come about as a consequence of an assessmvnt . W?ien the re ;ister on taxes in arrears arrives at the Enforcement Ofdces it becomes an, official document which is available and accessible to anybddy . This means taat these registers are immediately available inter alia to credit information companies . If a higher court amends a decision of the Tax Board this decision will immediately be inierted in the register .WhentheapplicantremrnedtoSwedenin1982. he aontacaed two banlcswith a view in obtaining a loan to start a business . He only had oral contacts with these banks but it becarne clear tethe applicant that he would not be considerect credit worthy. There was however no forinal rejection of his app]ication since the applicant did not find it worth applying for any loan. Thereafter the applicant mmed to a private lender who lent the necessary money to the applicant for very high interest . The applicant also states that he was i-efused a c:redit card (kbpkort) . When Che applicant asked the, credit institutes for the loans he informed them himself of the fact that he harl tax debts . As far as che applicant knows the credir institutes did not themselves investigate the matter by enquring at any crecht information corapany . The Principle of Free Access to Officia3 Documerits In principle Swedish cirizens and aliens have a right of access to docunients on file with government and local agencies (official documents) . The provisions on the freedom of the press and free access to official doeuments are laid down in the Freedom of the Press Act (tryckfiihetsfbrordningen) . This Act is part of Sweden's constitution . 123 The rule is that all documents kept by the Government, the Parliament, the courts and the state and municipal authorities are accessible to anybody demanding to see them. However, all documents in the possession of the bodies mentioned are not considered "official" documents . A document is regarded as "official", if it has been either received by an authority or "drawn up", that is giveti its final version, by it. Thus, a draft of an authority's decision is not an official document unless it is dispatched after the matter has been finally settled . The term document also includes such recordings where access to the information can be had only by technical means, e .g. EDP (electronic data processing) recordings . In Chapter 2 of the Freedom of the Press Act there are some special provisions concerning such recordings . However, in general the same provisions cover all kinds of documents . Certain provisions of the Freedom of the Press Act set forth the procedure to be followed whenever anyone wishes to have access to an official document . It may either be read on the premises or a copy of it may be obtained for a fee . If anyone wishes to study a recording whose content cannot be understood without assistance from a device such as a tape recorder or an EDP device, the agency shall provide such a device. If a person's request for access is refused, an appeal may usually be lodged with a court of law. The right of access to official documents is not unlimited . According to the Freedom of the Press Act this right may be restricted, but only if restrictions are necessary considering 1 . the security of the state or its relations to other states or international organisations, 2 . the state's central financial, monetary or currency policy, 3. the activities of public authorities for the purpose of inspection, control or other supervision, 4 . the activities of public authorities to prevent or suppress crime, 5 . the economie interests in public activities, 6 . the protection of the personal or economic circumstances of the individual, or 7 . the protection of species of animals and plants. According to the Freedom of the Press Act, restrictions of the right of access to official documents shall be specified in a special Act, i .e. at present the 1980 Secrecy Act (sekretesslagen) . The basic principle behind all the specific provisions on secrecy in the Act is that information shall be kept secret, if there is a risk (the grade of risk varies in the different provisions) that a disclosure of the information would harm the interest (e.g. the private life of an individual) that is protected under the Act . It follows that certain files (manual as well as automated) may be open to inspection by the public, whereas others are not. All authorities have tb register official documents or at least keep them in such a manner that their existence can be established by the public . Other provisions prescribe how secret documents may be marked with a special stamp to prevent their unintentional release. Furthermore, there areprovisiobs requiring the authorities to give each other and the general public information .124 Since 1 July 1982 there are also special provisions on the nse of EDP by the authorilies. According to one of these provisions, the autttorities shall arrange their use of EDP with regard to the principle of publicity . Among other things, the authorities shall consider theindividual's interest of using the authorities' data terminals to get access to official documents . Another provision gives individuals the right tc use an aathority's data terminals . There are, however, exceptions to this rule, e .g. if secrel information may be divulged or EDP recordings may be deleced or altered . Fhrthe:more, an authority using EDP shall have a description of the files etc., whicti are processed in this way . When asked, an authority is also ob7iged to supply individuals with the special information needed to retrieve EDP recordings of offic-ial documents. The Use of Personal Identity Numbers in EDP Regislers Tri 1947 a system of birth registration number vias iatroduced in Sweden . The over-all purpose was to satisfy the need for a more uniform, accessilile and manageable method for the Identification of persons than through their names . The birth registration number was co-ordinated with the date of b;rth to a nine-digit number, which was used as an ic.entity code. This numlier was usually called the civic registration number. The civic registration number was nsed as an aid of identification, inter nlia in civic registration, demographical and social statistics and in classifying income tax return forms and salary data . Apart from the civic registtation nimber other identification codes were also used in the beginning, such as military registration number, employment number and client number. Over the years, the civic registration number became rnore widely used. It was, for instance, used as a military service identif,cation nurnber and finally acquired the function of a uniform identification method throughout several sections of the society . P, so called control-dig;it wa& added to the civic registration number in 1968 in order lo facilitate the control of the accuracy of the number with the help of EDP . At the same time the number was by law given the designation Personal Identity Number (PIN) . According to Section 7 of the Civic Registration Act (folkbokf5ringsf8rordningen, 1967 :495), a PIN shall be given to every person wtro is registered as a resident of a parish in Sweden . Phe Connty Administrative Board (lënsstyrelsen) decides the PIN for all new-born babies . Other categories are given a number by the Natiocal Inland Revenue Board (riksskatteverket). T'his is the case for persins who have immigrated to Sweder, and also for certain individuals who are not registered with a parish . 125 The personal identity number contains a person's date of birth, the birth registration number, and a control-digit. The date of birth consists of two digits for the year, two for the month and two for the date . The birth registration number contains three digits taken from the series 001-999 . The third digit of the birth registration number is an odd one for men and even for women . Those who are born on the same date are given different birth registration numbers . Finally, the personal identity nutnber ends with the control-digit . The personal identity number is over-a11 used as an aid in identifying persons . It is also frequently used as an identifying key (sdkbegrepp) for EDP-based personal files and as a linking key (kopplingsnyckel) when files from different personal files are matched or cross-processed (samkbrning) . The PIN is used in civic registration . It is widely used also in other areas within the public sector, e .g. in the tax administration, health and social services . The number is to a great extent also used within the private sector. Several statutes contain rules stating that the PIN shall or ought to be submitted in petitions or applications to the authorities . As examples the provisions regarding the following matters can be mentioned : declaration and collection of taxes, customs, price-regulations, census, elections, criminal investigations, trials, debtrecovery, execution, security-guards, passports, hunting, weapons, credit information, unemployment insurance, insurance business, corporations, the acquisition by aliens of Swedish companies and Swedish real estate, the commerce of scrap iron and used goods, professional transports, transport exchange, car rental and driving licences. In other contexts within both the public and the private sector the demand for the submission of the personal identity number can be founded on different kinds of agreements . The individual's possibilities to refrain from submitting his personal identity number are often in practice limited, if he desires certain goods or services . As a result of the information on the personal identity number being submitted to authorities and companies, such data are to a great extent present in both public and private EDP-files . Within the public sector such files are maintained for e .g . taxpayers, owners of real estate, certain officers of corporations, car owners, driving licence holders, convicts, patients, blood donors, housing applicants and electricity subscribers . In the private sector registers containing PINs exist regarding e .g. employees, buyers, subscribers, tenants, purveyors, credit card holders and members of private societies . Provisions for the protection of the illicit invasion of privacy are to be found inter a[ia in the Secrecy Act and the Data Act (datalagen, 1973 :289) . 126 Anyone who wants to check his PIN or to find out the number of someon- else, can usuedly get the information by making an application to one of the authorities within the Civic Registration Acministration, for instance, the Parish Office (pastorsexpr,dition) or the County Administrative Boatd . Information on the I?IN of the whole oi- part of the population is in principle also available from the EDP-base.d State Aclmiitisteren Person and Address Register (SPAR) . According to Chapter 7, Section 15 of the Secrecy Act, information regarding the individual's private affairs is secret within the scope of the authorities administering civic registration or similar authorities administering files on the population, for instance SPAR . A condition for secrecy is, however, that it ean be assum ;d that the individual or his relatives will suffer, i .f the data are releasec .. The secrecy regarding eiviic registration would only in exceptional cases be considered to apply to information on the PIN . On the other hand, information on the PIN cau be considered to be se_ret, if someone applies to an authority otter than the ones mentioned above in order to get the PIN of someone else . Fcr instmce, secrecy is provided for under eertan eonditions within the étealth and medical service administration and the social services, regarding data on the individual's private affairs. The annotations of a patient's or client's PIN are considered to be such protected data . The reason for secrecv being upheld here is, however, nol the i~iformation about the PIN as such but this information combined ivith the fact that it is to be found in, for instance, a certain medical institution. There are in principle no provisions in law or :;tatute that ?rohibit or restrict the use of PINs . Nor are there in the Data Act any provisicns with the direct purpose to prohibit or restrict the use of PINs in personal data files. This does not nrean an approval of the matching of files with the help of PINs . In order to match EDP-files, it is in principle necessary to have,he approval of the Date[ Inspection Agene,y (datainspektionen) . Moreover, tlte Data Inspectien Agency has to inspec,~ (according to Seciion 15, Subsection I of the Data Act) the use of EDP with regard to the protection of illicit invasion ol' the individual's personal integrity . Credit Information Enterprises Activities which aim at giving customers (sueh as banks and other len(iing institutions) assessments of the credit eecords for prospective borrowcrs, are governed by law aince 1974 in Sweden . The provisions pertainirig to such activities are given in the Credit Information Act (k.reditupplysningslageni . In the following, the main guidelines (in particular those related to information on the individual's tax record) will be d?scribed. 127 The main function of credit information is to enable the lending institution to assess whether a custonter is a "good" or "bad" risk . One way of making this assessment is to gather information on the customer's previous behaviour regarding economic matters as well as information on his overall income, wealth, etc . Every commercial credit information enterprise - apart from some special cases - must have a permit from the Data Inspection Agency . The Agency supervises the credit information activities and their conformity with the Credit Informa[ ion Act. A permit may be revoked in case the provisions of the Act or the guidelines of the Agency are violated . The Credit Information Act establishes : a) under what conditions information may be supplied to customers, b) what kind of information may be collected, registered and supplied, c) updating (deletion of outdated material, etc .), d) the individual's right to have information communicated to him, e) the obligation of the controller of a file (i .e. the enterprise) to notify and correct errors, and t) the obligation of the enterprise to pay damages . The Act further contains provisions on punishment for specified offences against these rules . Requests for information from credit information files concerning private individuals may not be granted, if there is reason to believe that the information will be used by a person other than someone who has entered or intends to enter into contract with the individual or who is in the need of the information for some other similar reason . Such information as is legal under the Act falls mainly into one of the following three categories : 1) identity information - name, personal identity number, address etc., 2) information on adverse remarks concerning payments, and 3) information on income and private capital . Within category 2 thus fall remarks registered by the National Inland Revenue Board on individuals who have not paid their taxes in time, taxes in arrears (restldngdf6rda skatter) . On any given individual the following items may thus be registered : a) Name, address, personal identity number, civil status, the name of his/her spouse, taxable income, taxable capital, assessed value of real estate property, identity of such property, marriage agreement s b) Decisions by the courts ordering payment of debts whether under the petty claims regulations or the Code of Judicial Procedure (debts below SEK 300 are not registered, however), bankruptcy applications and decisiôns,redemption of goods reclaimed by sellers, protests of bills'of exchange and information on taxes in arrears . 128 The, routines for establishing and regïstering taxes in arrears are in short as follows : Thr. County Board issues a list of char,ed taxes which have not been paid within the established tirie limit . Under the Swedish tax legisktion taxes are payable although the decision to charge a certain tax amount has been appealed . Consequendy, this list (restltingden) may include taxes which are under examination by appellate instances . The County A .dministratïve,Beard shall emit the list to the Em'orcement Offices (kronofcgdemyndigheterna) two months after the expiration of the lime limit for payment . Oace this is done, the iaformation is publicly available . Thelist also contains information on decisions to defer payment (anstgnd) . If such a decision is made, information about ibe charged tax is deleted before the coutents cf the list are sulr plied to ihe credit information enterprises . Information on whether a tax decision has been appealed is not included in the supplied information . Adverse remarks concerning payments may be kept for three years at the most, if related to a private person . If the person, has paid the debt, the item will not be erased automatically . The individual has a right to communication which includer, notice to him - free of oharge - of any request for information pertaining to him . The notice shall include the information which has been disseminated (inter alia zny assessment on his credit worthimss) and the name of the custome- requesting the intornration. Furthermore, any individual is entitled to obtain against a fee a statement coniaining all information about him which is stored by a credit inforenation enterprise, or that there is no such iriformation stored, as the case may be . There are currently three nation wide credit information enterprises in Sweden, Soliditel AB, Upplysningscentralen UC AB and AB Svensk Upplyoningstjënst . Since all three are using EDP-media to keep their files, the individual is entitled ûnder the Data Act to obtain a statement of the above mentioned kind orce a year -iee of charge. THE LAW (Extratct) 1. The applicant has complained about the systerri of personal identity numbers as it ha~ been applied in his case . He has also complained inter aLia that hewas wrongfidly taxed and that information about his unpaic6taxes had been registéred and disclosed to credit information companies . In particular he refers to the fact that the taxation had been based on aa estimate of his income which he could later prove to be wrong. Furthermore, he Itas complained of the fact that the information did not indicate the fact tlrat the issue of his taxation was still pending on appeal . 129 2. The Commission has [first] examined the applicant's complaints under Article 8 of the Convention which reads as follows :"l . Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence . 2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. " The Government have submitted that the applicant's complaints are of a genera l nature and should be regarded as an "actio popularis" and not permitted by the Convention . They submit accordingly that the applicant cannot claim to be a°vietim" within the meaning of Article 25 of the Convention . The Government have also submitted that the application is inadmissible for failure to exhaust domestic remedies and in any event as being manifestly ill-founded . The Commission finds it appropriate first to recall that the applicant's pleadings before the Commission were initially concentrated on complaints against the use of personal identity numbers in general .Subsequently, he has rather directed his complaints against the manner in which the Tax Board arrived at the alleged wrongful tax decision . 3 . The Commission first observes that there is no provision in the Convention which as such expressly or implicitly prohibits the use of personal identity numbers . The question which arises is therefore whether the manner in which personal identity numbers are used infringes any Article of the Convention. In this respect, the Commission recalls that it has previously held that data protection is an issue which falls within the scope of Article 8 of the Convention (cf . inter adia Leander v . Sweden, Comm. Report 17.5.85, para. 54 with further references, Eur. Court H .R., Series A no . 116, p . 38) . It is therefore conceivable that the use of personal identity numbers as a way of storing data in different registers and the matching of such registers could raise an issue under Article 8 of the Convention . In the present case the Commission must first decide, however, whether the applicant can, as required by Article 25 of the Convention, claim to be a°vietim of a violation .. . .. . It is established in the case-law of the Convention organs that an applicant cannot complain as a representative of people in general, because the Convention does not permit such an "actio popularis" (see Eur . Court H.R., Klass and others judgment of 6 September 1978, Series A no . 28, para . 33). It follows that the Commission is only required to examine the applicant's complaints insofar as h e 130 himself can substantiate that he is a victim of the alleged violation, i .e. that he is affected by the use of personal ideritity nuntbers . Accordingly, as regards the applicant's general allegations about the use of personal identicy numbers, the applicant cannot claim to be a"victim" of a violation of any of the tights and freedoms in the Convention within the meaning of Article 25 of the Comtention It follows that in this respect the application is incompatible rattone personae with the provisions of the Convention, and inust be rejectec' under Article 27 para . 2 . 4. It is true that the applicant has complained that his personal identity number was used by the'Pax Board as a means of obtaining information from 1he Social Security Office about his expected income . The applicant has alleged that such information was oblained and that it was the basis for the Tax Board's allegedly wrongful decision to impose taxes on him . Ttre Commisson considers that it can leave open wtiether this complaint falls at all within the scope of Article 8 or any other Article of the. Convention . It can do so because in any event the applicant has successfully appealed against tie Tax Board's decisions. The judgment of the Regional Administrative Court of 25 November 198 3.completely relieved the applicant of the duty to pay taxes for the income years of D79 and 1980 . Any possible violation sternming from thè inanner in which this taxalion came about lias therefore been rectified at ihe domestic level, and the applicant can in this respect no longer claim to be a"vicrim" of a violation of the Convention within the meaning of Article 25 . This aspect of the application is therefore manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para . 2 . 5 . The apolicant has also stated that he was registered as being in arrears with his taxes and that this inforrnation, which became publicly available, was transmitted to a credit information company and that he was thereby labelled not creditworthy . The Commission considers that the fact that the applicant ivas registered in a register on taxes in arrears, a tax which was based on an assessment and still subject to appeal, and that this registerbecame public and available inter alia to credit information companies, can as such be regarded as an in.erference with the applicaut's right tc respect for his private life as guaranteed by Article 8 para . I of the Convention . However, the facts of the case should be seen against the background that taxes in Svveden are under the law payablr. irrespective oF whether they are subject to subsequcnt appeal . Regard must also be had to the long-standing principle of free access to official documents prevetiling in Sweden as provided f'or in the Freedom of the Press Act. In these cûrcumstances, the Commission is of the opinion that the interferenee with the applicant's rights under Article 8 para . I must be regarded as being of a minor nature . In the Commission's opinion this interference is justified under ~he terms of Article 8 para. 2 as being in aeeerdance with the law and necessary in a democratic society inter alia for the eeonomic well-being of the country and for tie protection of the rights and freeJoms of otliers . 131 The Commission observes in this context that the applicant could have requested a stay in the payment of the tax pending the outcome of the appeal . If such a request had been successful, he would not have been registered as being in arrears with his taxes . As regards the allegation that the applicant was refused certain loans on account of infonnation obtained through the register on taxes in arrears, the Commission considers that there is nothing to suggest that any such refusal was based on information obtained from a credit information company . On the contrary, at the hearing before the Commission, the applicant stated that he had himself told the banks about his tax debts . It follows that this aspect of the application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para . 2 of the Convention .