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Finnish Police want web snooping powers

Finnish police would like to be able to screen both data traffic within Finland and that which passes through Finnish cables. At present they can only intercept data once a crime is suspected and an investigation in progress.

Mikko Paatero.
Finland's National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero Image: Yle

National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero says that it would be embarrassing to receive information from abroad about what is happening in Finland. To prevent that eventuality, he wants Finnish police to have expanded powers to monitor online communications.

"We cannot follow signals in Finland or travelling through Finnish cables," says Paatero. "But others can do it for Finland. In my opinion it’s a little bit embarrassing that we can hear from somewhere else about what is happening here."

Finland’s cyber security strategy is currently in the works. Parliament’s Foreign and Security policy committee decided today that new legislation may be needed. In Paatero’s opinion the recent scandal over spying at the Foreign Ministry was a concrete example of Finland’s deficiencies in preventing cyber espionage.

Following the Swedish model?

In Sweden the army has the right to follow Swedish and foreign data traffic. Paatero says it is most important that Finnish police have the right to follow data traffic in Finland.

"We should know what happens in Finland—above all the data traffic," says Paatero. "But of course it is in our interest to also know what goes through Finland."

National borders are somewhat artificial in the online world, according to Paatero. He says that enhanced monitoring rights would help prevent attacks before they occur.

The commissioner says that the central problem in legislating for the new powers is reconciling the right to privacy with security needs. For that reason, Paatero says that the data protection ombudsman should be involved in the legislative process.

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