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Government to revisit Finland’s 'snooping' law

A controversial snooping law, which gives certain organisations the right to bypass internet privacy laws could be repealed, according to the Housing and Communications Minister.

The legislation, also dubbed “Lex Nokia” because of newspaper allegations that leading mobile phone manufacturer Nokia was a sponsor of the bill, allows organisations such as businesses, universities, public officials, libraries and even housing cooperatives the right to determine the identities of online users in certain conditions.

At the time that the legislation was being prepared, the major corporate concern was the ability to intercept cases where company secrets were transmitted via email.

According to Housing and Communications Minister Krista Kiuru the legislation, which came into force in 2009, will be reviewed to determine whether or not it is, in fact, necessary.

The Minister has set up a working group to investigate how often the law has been invoked. If it hasn’t, the Ministry may even revoke the law.

The review comes as new legislation, due to take effect in 2014, would give officials the same rights as the so-called Lex Nokia.

“Lex Nokia will no longer be required on the basis of these arguments. The situation will change from the beginning of 2014, when amendments to the Coercive Measures Act will take effect,” Minister Kiuru said in a statement.

According to Minister Kiuru, the Coercive Measures Act will give investigating officials the right to electronic oversight, if they suspect that confidential company information is being leaked via email.

The Minister also pointed out that the law may be revoked if it is not called into use.

Companies can invoke Lex Nokia to determine online users’ identities by tracking their IP addresses, without probing the contents of users’ emails. The investigation would have to be disclosed to individuals under suspicion, as well as data protection authorities.

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