Online funerals ruled in breach of Swedish law

The Stockholm Cemetery Administration (Stockholms Kyrkoförvaltning) was hoping to be the first in the country to offer funerals broadcasted online, a practice common in several other countries.

Online funerals ruled in breach of Swedish law

But the scheme has run in to some unexpected trouble – mounting a camera to film the funeral would be in breach of Swedish surveillance law, according to the County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelsen).

“They have misjudged the situation. Only those that the bereaved approve in advance would be issued with passwords and able to see the broadcast, “ Göran Höglund of the cemetery administration told The Local.

The Woodland Cemetery (Skogskyrkogården), a UNESCO heritage site, in Stockholm, was to be the first site to broadcast funerals over the internet to those that could not attend.

The cemetery has five chapels and approximately 2,200 ceremonies are performed there per annum.

Plans had advanced some way, and the administration had started collecting quotes from several companies providing technological solutions.

The idea was to perform the first web-based ceremony in November.

But then the cemetery administration received a statement from the County Administrative Board, saying that filming on site with a mounted camera would fall under Swedish surveillance law and could therefore not be allowed.

“We can only issue permits for accident and crime prevention, and in some rare cases for research purposes. Around churches it is very restricted in general, “ Malin Ricknäs of the County Administrative Board Permits Unit, told the Dagens Nyheter daily on Tuesday.

Though the use of a movable camera to film the funerals would be allowed, this proves problematic because it would require staff operating the equipment, according to Hägglund.

In the US the interest for internet funerals has soared over the last few years, Sveriges Radio reported in February.

In two years, the company Funeralone, providing the software to the undertakers, have seen their customer base increase from 126 to 1053.

“It is an option for those unable to otherwise attend, due to illness or distance. We have soldiers stationed abroad that naturally wouldn’t be able to attend a funeral in the USA,“ Skip Willoughby, vice president of Funeralone, told SR.

The cemetery administration will now inform their board and with their approval will file a more extensive application to the County Administrative Board.

Göran Höglund is certain that they will eventually get the go ahead to broadcast funerals over the internet.

“Sooner or later it will become a reality,” he told The Local.

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