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Lex Nokia Debate Ignites Parliament

On Tuesday Parliament opened debate on the highly controversial data protection bill, the so-called Lex Nokia. The opposition wants a complete overhaul of the bill, which it say is too vague.

Government, however, defended the bill, saying it would bring precise rules to data protection issues.

The parliamentary committees that prepared the data protection bill, the Constitutional Law Committee and the Transport and Communications Committee, stood behind the bill, which is designed to help companies protect industrial secrets.

Kimmo Sasi, chair of the Constitutional Law Committee, said he was strongly in favour of the bill and that the committee members were united with him on this position. However Martti Korhonen, chair of the Transport and Communications Committee, expressed his personal reservations to the bill.

“I’m concerned that if the bill passes the way it is now written, it won’t serve anyone. It is not good for firms or employees,” said Korhonen.

Critics say the bill would give employers more far-reaching powers than the police, and may even be unconstitutional.

Sasi said his committee was clear on the point that the contents of e-mail messages fall under privacy protection laws, whereas metadata does not. That said, the bill would not allow companies to read e-mail message contents or listen into phone conversations.

Parliament's Employment and Equality Committee and the Administration Committee also gave the bill a precursory green light.

Government Pitted against Opposition

While the opposition has called for throwing out the bill because it says it is too vague, government defended the bill because it adopts precise rules on corporate data protection.

The only minister present at the debate, Communications Minister Suvi Lindén, said many opponents of the bill were ill-informed of its actual implications.

“The bill only pertains to workers with access to trade secrets,” said Lindén.

Fate of Lex Nokia Decided Next Week

Critique of Lex Nokia has become particularly heavy in recent weeks as one government official and one union official came forth and confirmed that Nokia had threatened to leave the country if the bill failed to pass in Parliament. Previously, the mobile phone giant denied all claims that it had lobbied for the bill.

Parliament is expected to vote on the bill next Wednesday.

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