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'Lex Nokia' company snoop law passes in Finland

Employee-monitoring law waved through

More serious is the role taken by Nokia in respect of this debate. It had been reported that in 2006, Nokia told the Ministry of Employment and the Union of Salaried Employees (TU) that it would leave Finland if a new law on protecting electronic communications was not passed.

EDRI further reports that prosecutor Jukka Haavisto has denounced Nokia for illegally monitoring contact information of its employees' email in 2000 to 2001.

El Reg sought clarification on these allegations from Nokia – but at time of publication, we have had no response. However, a report in Helsingin Sanomat claims that the threat (to leave Finland) was put forward by Lasse Laatunen, head of legal affairs at the Confederation of Finnish Industry, who has since said: "I don’t remember saying such a thing and I do not believe that I did."

A spokesman for Nokia said: "Nokia categorically denies making a threat to Finland...the law up till now has been problematic as it can be interpreted in many ways.

"Some reporting on this issue has also been wrong about the content of the law itself, claiming that companies will be able to read employees' emails. This is nonsense. According to the legislation, companies would NOT be able to read the content of emails, but only consult the log data of email, i.e. the names of the sender and recipient, time the email was sent and name and size of attachment. Nokia stresses that it upholds the highest standards with regard to employees’ rights for privacy and other fundamental rights and has every intention to maintain such high standards in the future."

The law appears to legitimise employers who feel that they need to track the activities of employees who are leaking trade secrets, copying copyrighted materials or disrupting corporate networks with attachments and malware. Such a measure has attracted great controversy in Finland.

Readers may wish to compare the current legal position in the UK as set out in guidance from the Information Commissioner. This already appears to legitimise quite extensive monitoring – possibly more extensive than that now made legal in Finland.

As at least one UK expert on these matters concludes: The RIP Act and the IC Regs do not strike an appropriate balance between the interests of employers and workers. ®

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