Monday's papers: Tech problems for voters and pensioners, drug crimes, and more about Trump

Among the items in the morning newspaper press were security concerns about electronic voting, the potential for a whole generation to be left behind by online services, and ripples from the US presidential elections.

Daily newspapers.
Image: E.D.Hawkins / Yle

The main obstacle to introducing online voting in Finland continues to be security concerns, according to a Finnish News Agency STT article in Monday's Turun Sanomat.

A study is being launched into the technology, risks and costs of setting up an online voting service in Finland that would be available as an alternative to casting a traditional paper ballot.

The report in Turun Sanomat quotes Jarkko Saarimäki, the director of the National Cyber Security Centre at the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority as say that an internet-based voting system would be a very tempting target for anyone aiming at influencing the exercise of democracy in Finland.

Saarimäki says that an electronic voting system would require massive preparations and security planning. Even now, he pointed out, state online systems are regularly under threat of denial of service attacks. On the other hand, he pointed out that even the present system is not foolproof.

In technical terms, online voting would be possible to introduce. The key issue is sufficiently reliable voter identification.

One researcher in the field, Antti Lamppula, whose doctoral dissertation dealt with the development of electronic voting, sees the biggest challenge as getting voters to trust in the validity of results.

Advocates of introducing online voting say that it would increase voter participation and save money.

Not easy for all

Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat carries a front-page feature this morning pointing out that electronic services do not arouse enthusiasm in all parts of the population. Older people often find there is a very steep learning curve to using services online that they have always had available at a service desk.

Pensioners in particular may be alienated by new technologies.

The Finnish government is looking to put public services online. Digitization is moving forward by leaps and bounds, but what will happen to the some half a million Finns over the age of 65 who don't use or don't even own a computer?

Helsingin Sanomat presents a long list of public services from healthcare to public transport that increasingly are, or will soon be requiring computer skills. This will make access a challenge for many older people.

Digitization improves the cost efficiency of public administration, the paper points out, but constant changes to familiar practices may induce a feeling of incompetency, frustration, and even alienation.

The paper provides links to half a dozen different organizations and projects that provide older people with help in learning to use computers and online services.

Drug crimes up in the east

The Kuopio-based Savon Sanomat reports today that police statistics show that the sharpest rise in serious drugs crimes this year has been registered, not in the country's urban centers, but in the east of the country.

During the period of January through September of this year, felony drug offenses went up by 5%-15% in most parts of Finland, and declined by 25% to 35% in the southwest and central regions.

In the East Finland administrative area, these offences were up by 55%

However, Savon Sanomat says that this figure is not a direct indication of an upswing in the use of illegal drugs, but rather of more successful operations by police to deal with the drug trade. Even so, the paper points out that it is believed that there is more drug experimentation going on among younger people.

Amphetamine and ecstasy have become more common. Rather than middle-aged dealers familiar to police, increasing numbers of users born in the 80s and 90s are now dealing, according to Savon Sanomat.

And, about Trump

Over the weekend, the newsstand tabloid Iltalehti reported on old business links between Finland and US President-elect Donald Trump. Links, it turned out, never really led anywhere except to drinks in some local bars in the small town of Rauma.

Donald Trump, accompanied by his companion of the time, Marla Maples, arrived in Helsinki in April 1992, travelling on to the west coast town of Rauma for talks with a shipyard based there about a luxury cruise liner. No deal was ever forthcoming, and according to those involved at the time, the high point of the stay seems to have been Trump's desire to see the "night life" in the town of less than 40,000.

Nearly a decade and a half later, in 2006, Trump was also involved in plans for a luxury tourist centre in Finnish Lapland. That project apparently ended when partners in the project refused his demand to pay the fuel bill for his private jet so he could attend a meeting in Levi.

In fresher news, Iltalehti reported on Monday that the Hesburger issued a statement during the night in response to a tweet by an employee making the rounds of social media.

Dated November 9th, the tweet said, "20 minutes before closing time in walks a dude wearing a Make America Great cap on his head. I would have liked to spit on his burger".

Last night, the company's official Twitter account responded, "Hesburger does not condone any kind of threats. All customers are welcome. We will deal harshly with this incident."

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