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Finnish intelligence to get broader online surveillance powers

Finland's security intelligence services are set to give broader powers to intercept data online, if a new legislative proposal published on Wednesday is accepted by parliament. The law would make it easier for the authorities to intercept information even when a crime is not suspected.

Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

Intelligence officers need greater surveillance powers to aid in the fight against terrorism, according to a working group that submitted a legislative proposal on Wednesday. The group, operating under the Interior Ministry, is proposing that Finland's security intelligence police Supo get new powers to intercept information online and abroad.

In practice, that means that Supo and military intelligence officers would be allowed to intercept confidential communications, and to gather intelligence abroad.

Officers would be permitted to, for example, hack messaging services and break encryption in order to read the contents of messages between persons deemed a potential threat to national security.

Granting these new powers will require changes to the constitution, as well as the establishment of a new watchdog body to oversee the intelligence agencies' activities.

The report suggests that mass surveillance is not the goal, but that the authorities should always have suspicions that Finnish national security is at risk.

Finland has hitherto lacked an intelligence law, which meant the intelligence bodies have not previously been allowed to gather intelligence abroad.