>Numerous unnamed civil servants, politicians and representatives of labour market organisations have told the Finnish newspaper ‘Helsingin Sanomat’ that Finland-headquartered mobile phone maker Nokia had threatened to leave Finland if parliament failed to pass a piece of legislation known as the ‘Lex Nokia’ bill. Lex Nokia would grant employers access to employees’ email metadata if they suspected a breach of confidentiality clauses
>The Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat has quoted dozens of unnamed civil servants, politicians and representatives of labour market organisations as saying that Finland-headquartered mobile phone maker Nokia had threatened to leave Finland if parliament failed to pass a piece of legislation known as the ‘Lex Nokia’ bill.
The proposed law, which aims to prevent corporate espionage by employees, would allow employers to monitor employees’ use of company email traffic. While the content of employees’ messages would remain confidential, the employer would be allowed to see who the employee has corresponded with through the company’s email system, and what kind of attachment material is linked to each message.
‘Nokia applied very strong pressure in order to have the government proposal approved unanimously already in the drafting stage,’ the paper quoted one civil servant as saying. The unnamed source added: ‘The message conveyed through the Confederation of Finnish Industry (Elinkeinoelämän keskusliitto, EK) was loud and clear: if the law is not passed, Nokia will leave Finland.’
>Nokia’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, stated that he has been amazed at recent debate over a bill that would allow employers to extract contact information from employees’ email. In an interview with the economic journal Talouselämä, Mr Kallasvuo sharply denied claims that Nokia would have threatened to leave Finland if the law on data protection of electronic communications is not changed. The proposed law has been dubbed Lex Nokia. ‘We have been placed in a completely unreasonable situation, in which one law has been named after us. We have not given it the name,’ CEO Kallasvuo stated. He dismissed claims of a threat by Nokia to leave Finland as absurd, arguing ‘there is no sense to it’.
>Finland’s Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen, told the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) that Nokia had not threatened the government with relocation and added that this topic had not come up in discussions with Nokia or any other company. ‘At least I have not been informed of this, and when the government has engaged in this discussion no cabinet member has reported this sort of ultimatum,’ Prime Minister Vanhanen stated.
Defending Lex Nokia, Mr Vanhanen added that Finns should not be ‘benign fools’ in the face of industrial espionage as the Finnish public’s affluence hinges to an increasing extent on technology and innovation.
>Whereas legal experts have noted that the bill violates the Finnish constitution, the parliament’s Transport and Communications Committee supported the bill in December 2008.