By Heini Järvinen

Finnish government is in process of preparing of a new law on cyber intelligence. The draft by the Ministry of Defence working group preparing the law suggests giving the authorities such as Security Intelligence Service, National Bureau of Investigation, Communications Regulatory Authority and Defence Forces a mandate for a wide surveillance of online communications, including in situations where criminal activity is not suspected.

The plans have been criticised by Jyri Häkämies, the director of the Confederation of Finnish Industries, the largest business organisation in Finland, who expressed his concern about the law taking into consideration only the interest of the security authorities, forgetting the needs of business and industry. According to his statement, the law might seriously undermine Finland’s competitiveness and attractiveness for investors.

A member of parliament Oras Tynkkynen (Greens) pointed out in the government plenary session on 20 March that adapting the law as currently presented would enable mass surveillance, and could therefore affect Finland’s position as a hub of data traffic in the future.

The Finnish EDRi member Electronic Frontier Finland, a number of civil society representaatives and security experts, as well as Finnish Information Security Cluster (FISC) have also criticised the plan. “Mass surveillance would be used – sooner or later – to supervise the operations of organisations such as Greenpeace, who actively criticise the society”, comments Sini Harkki from Greenpeace in Finnish social democrat newspaper Demari. “The fact that such law is being prepared with closed doors shows strange consideration of democracy and ignorance towards civil rights”, she added.

Minister of Defence Carl Haglund explains that an evaluation of cyber security legislation is currently ongoing, and the measures it will lead into will most probably be discussed only in the next government programme, and not yet during the current term. Finland is often described as one of the few European countries where the security authorities have currently no possibility to carry out mass surveillance.

Confederation of Finnish Industries rejects the law on cyber intelligence in preparation (only in Finnish, 12.03.2014) http://www.hs.fi/talous/a1394528343062

Greepeace surprises: “Jyri Häkämies from Confederation of Finnish Industries is right” (only in Finnish, 12.03.2014) http://www.demari.fi/politiikka/uutiset/19583-greenpeace-yllattaa-ek-n-jyri-hakamies-on-oikeassa

Minister of Defence Haglund: Finland might increase the online surveillance in the next term (only in Finnish, 21.03.2014) http://www.tietoviikko.fi/kaikki_uutiset/puolustusministeri+haglund+suomi+voi+lisata+verkonvalvontaa+ensi+hallituskaudella/a976281

Wide consultations on preparations of the network intelligence law during the spring (12.3.2014) http://www.hs.fi/kotimaa/Verkkotiedustelun+valmistelusta+laaja+kuulemiskierros+kev%C3%A4%C3%A4n+aikana/a1394607665445