Social Media and Data Privacy in Sweden

1. Can the employer restrict the employee’s use of Internet and social media during working hours?

An employer has the right to direct and allocate work and thus is able to restrict the employees’ use of Internet and social media during work hours. However, practically, this depends on the type of work that is being performed.

2. Employee’s use of social media to disparage the employer or divulge confidential information

A trade secret is defined as information concerning the business or industrial relations of a person conducting business or industrial activities which that person wants to keep secret and the divulgation of which would be likely to cause a damage from the point of view of competition. Anyone who willfully or through negligence exploits or reveals a trade secret of an employer of which he or she has been informed in the course of the employment under such circumstances that he or she understood, or ought to have understood, that he or she was not allowed to reveal it, shall compensate for the damage caused by the action. Moreover, the employee may, by use of social media, act in breach of his/her employment contract, e.g. the duty of loyalty. Depending on the circumstances at hand, the employee may be dismissed for disloyal behavior.

3. Data privacy

There are restrictions on employers’ use of data regarding employees, former employees and applicants. According to the Personal Data Act, there are certain basic requirements for any form of processing of personal data that is fully or partly computerized. Personal data may only be processed if it is lawful and if the data is collected for specific, explicitly stated and justified purposes. The processing must be relevant and necessary for the purpose stipulated and personal data may not be stored for longer than necessary with reference to the specified purposes.

The Personal Data Act also stipulates situations in which personal data may be processed in cases where the individual has not given his or her consent to the processing. For example, personal data may be processed in order to satisfy a purpose that concerns a legitimate interest of the employer, provided that this interest outweighs the interest of the registered person in protection against violation of personal integrity.

Sensitive personal data – for example, information about employees’ or applicants’ race or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, membership of a trade union or personal data concerning health or sexual preference – may only be processed in special circumstances.

For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Sweden, please contact Robert Stromberg, Partner at Cederquist ( at
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