Information Society Code to Parliament
The complete reform of legislation applying to electronic communications is making headway. On 30 January 2014, Finland's Government submitted its proposal for Information Society Code to Parliament.
In accordance with the Government Programme, the key provisions that apply to electronic communications have been integrated in the Information Society Code.
After overlapping items were removed and provisions were consolidated the Information Society Code now consists of just over 350 sections, whereas there were previously 490 sections in ten different acts.
The purpose of the Information Society Code is to ensure that electronic communications services are available throughout Finland. The services must be technologically sophisticated, safe, easy-to-use and reasonably priced. Legislation will also be used to create better than ever conditions for competitive business, development of and innovations in communications technology.
Consumer protection will be improved. In cases where consumers order and pay for products and services via their mobile phone, it has been proposed that telecom operators and the companies selling the said products or services would share accountability. This would mean that in addition to the seller or service provider, consumers could turn to their telecommunications operator if the service or product is faulty or the consumer never receives it or is unable to discontinue a service order.
Special attention has been paid to protection of privacy and information security. Provisions applying to protection of privacy and ensuring information security would be extended to cover all operators that convey communication. The provisions would apply to such matters as confidential messages exchanged via social media.
The major changes faced in the media sector have been taken into account in the proposed new operating licence system. The system would be simplified by transferring a significant part of decisions concerning radio and television programming licences to the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (FICORA). In future, new frequency bands that will be utilised for mobile communications could be distributed via auction.
Steps will be taken to make monitoring of the pricing used by companies that hold significant market power more effective. FICORA would, for example, be given the right to determine a maximum price for a telecommunication operator's wholesale products when problems with competition arise.
The integrity of communication services will be promoted by creating better conditions for cooperation between the operators and the authorities in controlling disturbances. The most important network control centres and other critical systems should be maintained so as to allow them to be restored to Finland immediately in the event of special circumstances.
In its session, the Government also adopted three resolutions. In its first resolution the government promises to proactively simplify its operating licence procedures within the confines of laws currently in force.
In its second resolution the Government states that it will form a working group, the task of which will be to promote the development of information society so that users of wireless and cable internet connections can have access to audio-visual content in the open web as cost efficiently, extensively and simultaneously as possible.
According to the third resolution, transfer of the so-called Lex Nokia provisions into legislation on working life will continue.
In the course of preparing the Information Society Code the drafting process was brought up-to-date and made more open. An exceptionally large group of stakeholder representatives took part in the process. The monitoring group was made up of 50 members and the seven working groups consisted of 30-70 persons each.
The Information Society Code is scheduled to enter into force on 1 January 2015.
Ms Maaret Suomi, Senior Adviser for Legislative Affairs, tel. +358 295 34 2150