National Audit Office denounces preparation of Lex Nokia
Parliament’s Law Committee chair wants to suspend process
In the future, employees might have to be careful not to tell outsiders what a company’s CEO has written on his or her blog on the company’s intranet, lest company declare the blog to be a corporate secret, if it thinks that the publication of the content might cause economic harm.
This is one example of the pitfalls in the bill for new legislation on data protection that is currently before Parliament.
“The bill does not clearly define what a corporate secret should be for such measures to be enacted. Does it apply only to matters related to copyrights, or any information that an entrepreneur might consider to be economically harmful”? asks Tomi Voutilainen, a high-ranking official at the National Audit Office of Finland.
Voutilainen suspects that the companies have not thought through all of the implications of the proposed law.
“If a company brings violations of corporate secrets to the police, it becomes a public matter. The company’s reputation can be lost when it comes out that it has not handled its data security right”, says Voutilainen, who was one of the people who gave a statement on the proposal as it was being prepared.
“Monitoring of e-mail contact information is not the only problem with the proposed law. In its present form, the bill contains inconsistencies, and ineffective rules”, Voutilainen said.
One example that he gives involves cookies on web pages.
“According to the bill, a web service should inform users about cookies, but I have not seen any such notices - not even on the web pages of the Ministry of Transport and Communications itself.”
Criticism of Lex Nokia has intensified in recent days.
On Wednesday, Tero Kurenmaa, deputy director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) lashed out at the proposal in the Centre Party newspaper Suomenmaa, saying that the bill would give companies more extensive authority than the police have.
Joining the criticism was MP Heidi Hautala (Green), who chairs the Legal Affairs committee of the Finnish Parliament. Hautala said that the preparation of the bill should be put on ice.
Voutilainen sees the draft legislation as a crazy quilt.
“The data protection law for electronic communications has been unworkable so far, and new rules will not make it any easier to interpret.”
He says that it would be worth considering a comprehensive reform of the legislation. “At the same time we could have a thorough discussion on where the borders of privacy protection run.”
Previously in HS International Edition:
NBI rejects Lex Nokia (11.2.2009)
Vanhanen denies knowledge of Nokia threat over privacy legislation (2.2.2009)
Nokia - stronger than law? (1.2.2009)
Legal experts say “Lex Nokia” violates constitution (20.11.2008)