Experts: Swedish Law Allows Child Abusers to Keep Indecent Images on Cloud Drives

Man typing on a laptop computer. Science Photo Library / ABO
Science Photo Library/ABO/AFP

Swedish child sex abusers have been able to keep indecent images of children as long as they are stored on a cloud service, experts say.

A man convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl in 2009 was able to keep pictures of the teen on a cloud drive, despite police having seized the man’s devices which stored the indecent images. After serving his sentence in prison, he has reportedly come back to threaten her with the photographs.

Experts say that a legal loophole does not allow the authorities to access accounts such as emails or cloud drive services as the information contained in them is held elsewhere, rather than the suspect’s machine, meaning that the abusers can still possess the indecent images, Sveriges Radio reports.

Anders Ahlqvist, former operations specialist at the police’s national IT crime centre, said there is a lack of up-to-date legislation, saying: “Today, it is just as common to have data elsewhere than in your own machine, so from this point of view, the legislation is absolutely outdated.”

Prosecutor Emelie Källfelt told the broadcaster that some cases had been hindered as investigators could not access cloud service accounts and other online services.

“Ultimately, it will be the victims who suffer. If we do not succeed in identifying a child, then, of course, there will be serious consequences. Or that we can’t fully substantiate an indictment. So the big losers will be the victims,” Källfelt said.

Earlier this year, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) reported that child sex abuse and rapes of children had not only increased but had driven the growth in rapes overall in 2020, with a total of 3,950 cases reported for the year in a country of roughly 10 million people.

The laws governing the seizure of indecent images of children are not the only ones criticised by crime specialists in recent months.

Experts in Sweden have also criticised the country’s terrorism laws as not only being ineffective but possibly providing an environment that could see jihadists flock to the country.

Prosecutor Per Lindqvist warned earlier this month: “We run the risk of having individuals who come to Sweden to avoid criminal proceedings in other countries. I think that could be a concern in the future, and I think it’s a concern now.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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