Over 70 police officers are believed to have accessed personal information contained in police data banks on former murder suspect Anneli Auer without authorisation.
The snooping was revealed in a test conducted by the news service of the private TV network Nelonen, enlisting the help of three people to ascertain how much personal information officials have collected about them.
The test subjects Auer, Centre Party MP Antti Kaikkonen, and author Jari Tervo.
Each of them asked the police, tax authorities, and the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (KELA) for information on how many officials had handled information related to them without having an official reason to do so.
KELA was the only official body whose information on the test subjects had not been probed at all.
Police did worst in the test: 74 police officers had searched for information under Auer’s name. The National Police Board believes that between 50 and 70 of the searches had not been authorised. The attempts were not successful, as the Auer investigation is privileged information.
Investigations into bribery allegations against Kaikkonen are also confidential. Four police officers tried to access information about him. Nelonen says that it is possible that some might have been looking for information about a namesake.
No police officers dug into information about Tervo, but the information was of interest to one tax official. Five tax officials had looked into information about Auer without authorisation.
All of the tax officials caught for snooping have been given a written caution.
National Police CommissionerMikko Paatero told Nelonen that the police who looked at unauthorised information had not actually broken the law, but he feels that what they did was nevertheless wrong.
Paatero notes that the test indicates that the revelation of snooping into the personal information of skier Mika Myllylä, who died last year was an incident of a different magnitude.
Last autumn it came out that 136 police officers and 19 other officials accessed information about Myllylä last summer soon after his death.