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Lex Nokia storms into the Finnish Parliament

25 February, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: Lex Nokias Einzug ins Finnische Parlament

This article is also available in:
Macedonian: Лекс Нокиа влегува во финскиот парла...

Government bill dubbed as Lex Nokia, also known as the snooping law, entered the Parliament for debate on 24 February 2009. The bill has been widely criticized for heavy-handed treatment of fundamental rights, granting companies more rights than the police, suspicion of undue corporate pressure and vagueness and unclarity.

The proponents of the law have continued making embarrassing gaffes: Communications Minister Suvi Lindén has said in an interview in Tampere newspaper Aamulehti that an employer currently has the right to order a strip-search of an employee if there is suspicion that the employee is leaking company secrets. Furthermore, Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen, has stated that he is not familiar with the contents of the bill, but supports it firmly, regardless.

Yesterday's parliamentary debate consisted mainly of opponents of the law raising various concerns regarding fundamental rights, usefulness of the bill, increasing surveillance, bad drafting process etc. The defenders of the law kept repeating how opponents of the bill are ill-informed of its actual implications and how the bill improves the status of employee rights. The Left Alliance and the Social Democrats were calling for rejecting the bill and sending it back for a complete overhaul.

TV news on 24 February reported about the law, stating that it is meant to prevent three things:

  • leakage of trade secrets
  • copying of copyrighted materials
  • disruption of corporate networks with attachments and malware.

Unless this is some kind of mistake made by the news, this sheds a new light on the purpose of the bill.

Government party lines seem to be holding, only the Greens (14 seats) are split on the issue. If the lines are not broken any further, the bill will pass even if all Greens vote against it, since the National Coalition (51 seats), the Centre (51) and the Swedish People's Party (10) have a majority in the 200-member strong parliament.

The Greens have proposed limiting the bill so that the email log data is allowed to be examined only in cases where a company is investigating leakage of trade secrets. The content of the law is expected to be voted upon today, 25 February. The final vote, whether to pass or reject the bill, is expected next week.

Lex Nokia Debate Ignites Parliament (24.02.2009)

Labour Ministry official confirms threat of Nokia leaving Finland over law on electronic communications (24.02.2009)

Lex Nokia furore fuelled further by minister´s strip-search remark (13.02.2009)

EDRi-gram: Snooping law, "Lex Nokia", proceeding slowly but surely in Finland (17.12.2008)

(Contribution by Leena Romppainen - EDRi-member Electronic Frontier Finland)



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