Sweden extends data secrecy principles to insurers

Sweden’s Ministry of Finance has issued a proposal to extend principles of secrecy around client data to create a level playing field between banks and other financial services businesses such as insurers, which so far have been held to a different set of regulations.

“Insurance companies’ and banks’ businesses require the collection of different data about customers both of a financial and personal nature,” the Ministry said.

“The insurance companies and banks therefore [are operating under] special conditions to gain in-depth knowledge about their customers. Customers have a strong interest in that [this] is not divulged to unauthorised [third parties].”

“Insurance companies today implement a voluntary secrecy [policy] in respect of their customers. The introduction of a general rule about secrecy in the area of insurance would clarify for the public and insurance customers that insurance companies, like the banks, have a duty of secrecy. This would contribute to upholding the public’s trust in insurance companies,” the Ministry added.

The department said that the change was part of its work to strengthen the position of consumers in financial markets, and that it was important to ensure the correct handling of data through relevant legislation rather than just relying on a voluntary approach.

The issue of data secrecy had been pointed out previously by the government as an area requiring attention. The new proposal is expected to come into effect by 1 January 2012.


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