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Personal data of 1 million Swedes leaked to Facebook, Google & Microsoft by country's biggest insurer

Personal data of 1 million Swedes leaked to Facebook, Google & Microsoft by country's biggest insurer
Sweden's largest insurer, Folksam, has revealed that it accidentally leaked sensitive private data from one million of its customers to some of the world's biggest tech companies.

Folksam confirmed on Tuesday that its information had been handed to “digital partners” including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Linkedin and Adobe.

The leaking of Folksam's data, including customers' social security numbers, has been going on as far back as 2005, according to local media, although a spokesperson for the firm said the majority of it was shared after 2015.

Other information shared included what products individuals had purchased, including whether they had bought pregnancy insurance.

“We understand that this can cause concern among our customers and we take what has happened seriously,” said Jens Wikstrom, Head of Marketing at Folksam. “We have immediately stopped sharing this personal information and requested that it be deleted.”

The company has now reported the breach to the Swedish data watchdog, it said on Tuesday, although a spokesperson for the inspectorate said it had not yet decided whether to launch an investigation. 

Folksam, which insures around 50 percent of Swedish homes and individuals, first detected the leak during an “internal audit” around the beginning of October.

“This should not happen and we are now working hard so that it never happens again,” Wikstrom added, stressing that third parties had not used the data in “any improper manner.”

Customers' data was used in order to “provide customized offers” – in other words “tailored ads” – for “Folksam and others' communication channels,” the company said.

The company said it does not know which customers have been affected by the leak, but confirmed that IP addresses of both visitors to their site and logged-in customers had been among the data leaked.

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This incident comes after a separate Swedish firm suffered the leak of hacked data a week ago, in which documents including bank vault floor plans and security arrangements for the country's parliament were reportedly uploaded online.

European companies have been hit with huge fines for data breaches in recent years amid toughened privacy rules, according to Reuters.

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