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Finnish Parliament starts debate on expanded intelligence law

Finnish MPs consider allowing intelligence agencies to intercept confidential communications without the suspicion of a crime.

Turvalkamera tavaraatalon seinässä Berliinissä.
Image: Felipe Trueba / EPA

On Thursday, the Finnish Parliament started consideration of controversial intelligence law reforms that would give wide-ranging expanded powers to the security services.

The government says an increased threat of terrorism necessitates a reform of the intelligence laws, especially after the terrorist attack in Turku last year.

Currently the law does not allow the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) to gather intelligence to uncover plots that may threaten national security because the use of such measures is tied to a suspicion of crime.

According to the ministry of interior, deterring crime should be a separate activity and not connected to intelligence gathering.

Concerns on privacy

If the proposed reform is passed, Supo and military intelligence officers would be allowed to intercept confidential communications, hack messaging services and break encryption in order to read the contents of messages between persons deemed a potential threat to national security.

Concerns have been raised that the new law could threaten individual privacy as intelligence gathering could be undertaken through mass surveillance of email and other private communications.

The law change also proposes the establishment of a new watchdog body to oversee the intelligence agencies' activities.

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