A data workgroup: Finland needs to change the law on internet surveillance in fighting terrorism

Carl Haglund, the minister of defence, received a report on the need for providing tools for combating terrorism by monitoring the internet traffic in Finland at the House of the Estates on Wednesday January 14 2015. Picture. Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Carl Haglund, the minister of defence, is holding a report on the need for providing tools for combating terrorism by monitoring the internet traffic in Finland at the House of the Estates on Wednesday January 14 2015. Picture. Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

“Could this mean that that the internet traffic of an ordinary citizen like me could be monitored in the future?” a journalist asked during an interview with the minister of defence Carl Haglund at the House of the Estates, where a report on the need for changing the law of gathering online intelligence in Finland was handed to him on Wednesday.

Haglund raised eyebrows behind his glasses.

“I certainly hope it’s not necessary to follow your actions.”

Despite the laughs that followed, the subject is serious.

If the law on monitoring internet traffic would be changed, some of the proposed measures, according to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, would violate citizens’ fundamental rights and could weaken the possibilities of companies to do business.

The Ministry does not support the implementation of intelligence gathering through online surveillance, as there are no possibilities to distinguish domestic and foreign data transfer from each other.

“If we decided on doing nothing [to change the law], we should remember that it’s a decision as well and we would have to carry the responsibility for the decision.”

ft-carlhaglund2

Haglund thinks both could be possible: securing the privacy of ordinary citizens and providing the necessary tools for combating serious threats against Finland. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

 

Supo lacks tools

In addition, online surveillance would not necessarily provide the desired information, owing to the development and increased use of encryption techniques.

What is needed, however, is some kind of intelligence gathering and this is admitted by the communications ministry as well. That is, gathering intelligence against terrorism.

Currently, Supo, the Finnish Security Intelligence Service, has no legal rights to monitor any kind of internet traffic.

“If we decided on doing nothing [to change the law], we should remember that it’s a decision as well and we would have to carry the responsibility for the decision.”

“Our authorities would lack the necessary tools for securing our safety when we consider serious threats against our society.”

Other countries provide example

According to Haglund, in some other countries, for example in Germany and Netherlands, the problem has been solved in maintaining the online privacy of ordinary citizens and at the same time they have been able to provide the necessary tools for combating terrorism.

“It’s possible but it isn’t easy.”

Haglund said that the report by the data acquisition working group p is just an opener for the discussion about the need for changing several laws related to the subject.

Decisions of any kind concerning the online surveillance will, however, be handled by the next cabinet and parliament, which will be elected on April 19.

Contribute to the discussion

1 Comment on "A data workgroup: Finland needs to change the law on internet surveillance in fighting terrorism"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
hans schnakenhals
Guest
It would have been a better article if a slight bit of critical double checking would have been done on claims being made by Haglund. The problem of online privacy in Germany has not been resolved, the NSA commission is actively being blocked constantly, the attempts of a data retention law luckily in the past have been stopped by the EU court. The German government secretly and incompatibly with German law used trojans. Germany siphoned data to the US via one of the major nodes in Frankfurt. Currently the government started a new attempt to increase surveillance, while as well… Read more »
wpDiscuz