Legal Alert – Finnish Information Society Code Enters into Force in 2015
The renewed act on electronic communications called the Finnish Information Society Code (917/2014) has been approved and ratified. This act will enter into force mainly as of 1 January 2015. Under this new act, relevant provisions on electronic communications and providing information society services are drawn together in one act, repealing many of the previously effective acts on electronic communications. In practice, provisions in relation to several important areas, such as telecommunications, protection of privacy and confidentiality of messages, domain names, electronic marketing and cookies are under this new act.
The act aims to remove overlapping rules, increase flexibility, and to reduce and clarify legislation. Furthermore, its objectives are, inter alia, to foster the supply of electronic communications services and to ensure the availability of communications networks and services at reasonable conditions. The act also targets to ensure the confidentiality of electronic communication and protection of privacy as well as improve consumer protection.
With regard to consumer protection, the new act imposes provisions on joint responsibility of the telecommunications operator, service provider and seller in certain situations. In other words, a consumer having the right to refrain from paying or receiving any refund from, for example, service provider’s commodity due to service providers breach of contract shall have the same right in relation to the telecommunications operator which has charged the consumer for this commodity.
The act also expands the coverage of privacy protection and information security. In the future, provisions on privacy protection and information security apply to all telecommunications operators including social media providers. Moreover, it is important to notice that this new act also changes certain key definitions related to privacy concepts (e.g. “tunnistamistieto” in Finnish will be called “välitystieto” under this new act).
In addition, the act makes the access to universal services (e.g. universal telephone and internal connections) more efficient. In addition, the new act obliges telecommunications providers to provide their customers with universal services more actively. Furthermore, under this new act, the licensing system is going to be simpler since a remarkable part of programming licences for digital television or radio broadcasting operations shall be applied for with the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (FICORA).
In order to promote competition, price monitoring of operators with significant market power are made more efficient. FICORA shall be entitled to intervene in pricing if there is need to eliminate barriers to competition or to promote competition.
Furthermore, the act contains relevant changes to fi-domain activities as well. With regard to sections concerning domain names, the act enters into force on 5 September 2016. New legislation clarifies the roles of FICORA and registrars by enabling customers to acquire all services from one place, i.e. from their own registrar. This internationally widely-used model is called registry-registrar model. Furthermore, restrictions on domain name applicants place of residence and age will be abolished. Hence, the new act allows foreign companies and private persons to apply fi-domain names as well.