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Companies Drag Their Feet on "Snooping Law"

So far, not one Finnish company has made use of a controversial law allowing employers to monitor workers' emails. Proponents of the so-called Lex Nokia law say it could help businesses protect trade secrets.

Image: YLE / Grafiikka

The legislation, passed last spring, gives employers access to IP traffic data and employees' email accounts, but it does not let them read email content. Industry says the law could help them clamp down on industrial espionage.

Lawmakers estimated that dozens of companies would make use of the legislation to prevent information leaks.

But so far, not one business has taken advantage of the law since it was put into force nearly five months ago, according to the Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman.

Critics point to inherent failings within the law.

”No one really understands what this law means. More time should have been spent preparing it,” says Ville Oksanen of the civil liberties association Electronic Frontier Finland.

However, Mikko Nyyssölä of the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK, says not that much time has gone by since the law was put into force.

"The law came into effect last summer when people were on holiday,” he adds.

But Reijo Aarnio, the Data Protection Ombudsman, says putting the law into use has been a challenge.

"Perhaps for ideological reasons, decision-makers are committed to the guidelines. However, in practice this has proven to be quite challenging," he says.

The lack of enthusiasm for the law could be because companies don't want their names made public if they decide to keep an eye on employees' email. According to the law, businesses must inform the Data Protection Ombudsman if they begin monitoring.

Although the name of the person who informs the ombudsman of the plan to monitor email can be made public, the company's name is kept under wraps.

Sources: YLE

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