EFFI: Finland proposes extensive data retention while the country’s largest Telco executives arrested for data misuse

Helsinki 25th November 2002
Press release
For immediate release
Electronic Frontier Finland – EFFI ry

EFFI: Finland proposes extensive data retention while
the country’s largest Telco executives arrested for data misuse

Electronic Frontier Finland – EFFI ry demands the Finnish
government to change their position regarding the compulsory data
retention in telecommunications. EFFI’s chairman
Mikko Välimäki shoots: “According to a document we have acquired,
Finland demands that all telecommunications traffic data inside the EU
should be retained for two years.”

The Finland’s largest telecommunications operator Sonera is
currently under criminal investigation for suspected serious
traffic data misuses. The police has imprisoned or is requesting an
arrest warrant for six current or former Sonera executives,
including the company’s former CEO. (See e.g. Helsingin Sanomat 25.11.2002:
of Sonera corporate communications arrested

Välimäki continues: “You might think that the Sonera-case
would have been a wake-up call for politicians: if data is available, it will be
misused sooner or later. But no. Finland
seems to push forward with exceptional Big Brother

EFFI emphasizes that the police can already request data
retention if they have a valid reason to suspect a crime. The extension
proposed by Finland would require logging traffic data consisting
almost entirely of ordinary communications between citizens.

Ville Oksanen, international executive of EFFI,
comments: “One should also remember that the stored traffic data could
be used internationally. For example the Cybercrime treaty,
signed by Finland, means that Finland has an obligation to give
this kind of information to countries with judicial system not in
par with European standards. Although the risk of misuse
might be limited in Finland one cannot say the same for
example of Albania, Azerbaijan or Russia.”

Oksanen continues: “International organizations defending
privacy have already questioned the Finnish initiative.
As a newly accepted member of the Global Internet
Liberty Campaign
EFFI has had a lot to explain since the Finnish
government has previously been in the frontline of defending
its’ citizens’ right to privacy.”

The EU initiative is unfortunately not the only legislative
initiative that aims at compulsory data detention. The Finnish
parliament is currently considering a law proposal that would impose
a far-reaching data retention obligations also to Internet-based
discussion groups in Finland.

“Traffic data measures in huge amounts. Storing it for years is
not easy nor cheap,” says Kai Puolamäki, PhD, an EFFI board member.
Puolamäki continues: “A comprehensive obligatory data
retention, like the one proposed now, increases the risk of misuse
considerably. I would say the possible advantages of data
retention are questionable – especially since skilled criminals
can easily avoid this kind of surveillance.”

“Think if somebody suggested that janitors should keep track of all visitors entering
homes and write down their names. Their logs should be filed
for two years, just in case”, Puolamäki considers and continues: “The
proposal is ridiculous. Unfortunately, when
we talk about the Internet and politics, these kind of suggestions seem to be an
every-day phenomena in modern-day Finland and the EU.”

Additional information:

Memorandum by the Council of the
European Union on 20 November 2002
version, does not work with all browsers

Privacy and
(in Finnish)

A document by EFFI on the proposed law on liabilities in
public communications
that also proposes a comprehensive data

Mikko Välimäki
Chairman, Electronic Frontier Finland ry

+358 50 5980498

Ville Oksanen
Member of the Board, Electronic Frontier Finland ry

+1 415 572 0349

Electronic Frontier Finland – EFFI ry was founded in 2001 to
defend active users and citizens of the Finnish society in the
electronic frontier. EFFI influences legislative proposals
concerning e.g. personal privacy, freedom of speech and user rights
in copyright law. We make statements, press releases and
participate actively in actual public policy and legal discussions.
EFFI has been featured in the national media including TV,
radio and leading newspapers. EFFI also works in close cooperation
with organizations sharing the same goals and values in the Europe,
United States and elsewhere. EFFI is a founding member of the European Digital Rights and a member of
Global Internet Liberty
. More information from EFFI’s home pages: http://www.effi.org/