March 4, 2009

Parliament has passed the controversial reforms to the data protection law, the so-called “Lex Nokia” bill. The vote was 96 for, 56 against.

The hotly debated reforms caused arguments within the government coalition, but also caused a crack in the Green League.

Notably, three Green MPs who had previously voted against the bill abstained from the vote: Johanna Karimäki, Ville Niinistö and Kirsi Ojansuu. They were just three of the 47 parliamentarians who decided not to cast a vote.

[efoods]The bill, dubbed “Lex Nokia” because of the mobile phone giant’s perceived advocacy for the law, angered unions and privacy rights advocates.

The law allows employers and other organisations that provide users with Internet service and e-mail to monitor IP traffic data. In practice, this means that employers can see who workers are e-mailing, when the message was sent, and the size of the e-mails and attachments. It will not allow them to read the contents of e-mails.

Businesses say that this will allow them to clamp down on industrial espionage.

But opponents decry the measures as ineffective for preventing espionage, since any wily spy will simply use a personal e-mail account. They fear that the law will allow employers too invasive monitoring rights, such as watching what Internet sites employees access.

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