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Ministries set to delete visitor logs, mimicking Parliament

Branches of the Finnish government will soon start deleting records of meeting participants immediately after the meeting has taken place, reports Svenska Yle. This follows controversial news that the Finnish Parliament has taken to deleting its visitor logs on a daily basis.

Mies kirjoittaa nimeään Oulun tuomiokirkon vieraskirjaan.
Image: Wasim Khuzam / Yle

Permanent state undersecretary Timo Lankinen has informed Yle's Swedish-language service via email that the government and its ministries will soon begin deleting records of visitors to government and ministry locations immediately after the meetings they have attended have ended.

The change will be the result of a transfer to a new joint IT system, expected to be up and running by the end of the year. Until now, each government branch and ministry has had its own practice in this area, with some deleting the visitor logs at the end of the day, for example.

Lankinen says the government currently uses its visitor logs for interior purposes only, due to security reasons. He was not available for comment on whether the change is linked to the new stricter practice at the Finnish Parliament, which recently began to delete visitor logs on a daily basis.

Svenska Yle began investigating how different state authorities comply with Finland's Act on the Openness of Government Activities four years ago. It even went to court for the right to determine who had been going to Parliament to meet MPs, in order to understand which organisations and companies visited the legislature for the purpose of lobbying parliamentarians, for example.

In defiance of laws on state openness

Helsinki University's administrative law professor Olli Mäenpää has taken issue with the Finnish Parliament's handling of visitor logs. He says that by deleting the information daily, the public institution is violating its legal obligations not just in terms of openness, but also archiving.

He accused the Parliament of ignoring a Supreme Administrative Court decision from December 2016 that ruled that visitor logs should be made available in the public domain as a register.

A band of editors for several Finnish publications issued a statement in late September that said the Parliament's new practice significantly hampered reporters from the different media houses from doing their work.

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