Viitanen: The realisation of fundamental rights must be ensured in the digital transition

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 5.3.2014 15.27
Press release

The information industry provides significant opportunities for business and important benefits for society. It is essential to make sure that these gains are achieved in a healthy manner and in a way that respects the fundamental rights of citizens, stressed Finland's Minister of Housing and Communications Pia Viitanen at the Communications Forum organised in Helsinki on 5 March.

According to Minister Viitanen, the information industry is an area in which the Finnish society must pull together and show its true capabilities. Important doors are now open, one indicator of which are the estimates of the European Commission on development in the app sector. According to the Commission, by 2018 the sector could create as many as 4.8 million jobs in Europe, and the turnover of the sector could be approximately EUR 63 billion.

"Tapping into the digital transition requires that we identify our strengths, work to improve them on a constant basis and also possess the capacity to inform others of these strengths. We are in possession of expertise and a functional infrastructure, a stable society and a geographical position that offers natural conditions that support the demands of the sector. We could become a significant hub of data in telecommunications between Europe and Asia.

"We also have a great opportunity to profile ourselves as a European model country in data security, as data protection and the confidentiality of communications have been secured in our Constitution in a comprehensive manner," says Minister Viitanen.

"We have been dealt a handful of trumps, and they are what we have to work with. We must have the capacity to productise these assets and hold true to our promises. This is the only way we will be able to transform Finland into the 'data ace' of Europe. This is how we can create new growth and new jobs," Minister Viitanen envisions.

"We must not make hasty decisions in matters such as data security and the confidentiality of communication. Users must be able to trust businesses and authorities and their customer promises. Effective protection of data is a fundamental right of citizens and also an advantage to businesses," Minister Viitanen stresses.

Keeping a cool head in the face of new opportunities

Although the European Commission anticipates a prosperous future, it is also worth bearing in mind that the crumbling of trust after last summer's spying scandal caused tens of billions in losses to US companies in the cloud sector. Financial losses also mean the loss of jobs and a negative impact on well-being in society.

"All development that puts trust at risk is a concern for me. I would stress the importance of listening to the voice of reason for example in the preparation of the act on cyber intelligence. Intelligence is not a matter of security authorities alone, but also has an impact on the activities of citizens and businesses. Over-the-top measures or mandates in the field of cyber intelligence benefit no one," Viitanen states.

The digital transition alters the production chains and revenue generation models of several fields of business, with the consequence that the citizens using the services and the workers creating them are caught in the middle of the upheaval. These concerns will be on the agenda of Finnish communications policy until the end of the electoral term. The objective is to ensure high-quality services and diverse service provision in terms of citizen communication, media content, services provided by authorities as well as communications infrastructure.

Further information
Mr Antton Rönnholm, Special Adviser, tel. +358 295 34 2676