This is the kind of nightmare envisioned in the dystopian world of George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’.
Here’s the Police Board Chief Inspector Måns Enqvist laughing off the worries by those of us who correctly deem this intrusion by law enforcement to be an over the top, hard fisted invasion of the state in areas where it most certainly doesn’t belong:
Some have called the web police the “thought police.”
”That’s probably from the milder end,” says Enqvist, with a laugh.
“Some people have suggested that the police are trying to curb freedom of speech. That’s not what this is about. Just like in traffic, we carefully consider when to move in depending on a variety of factors including the law,” says Enqvist.
State broadcaster YLE held a ‘Hate Speech’ evening on public paid tv, which was nothing more than a clapping seal event, in which participants applauded state intrusion on the public square in one form or another. I had to turn off the set.
Police recruitment drive for 25 new online officers
Finnish law enforcement is taking a stronger stance against online crimes with the recruitment of 25 new web police officers. Set to start up in March, the new web police unit aims to curb online crime and hate speech.
Finland’s 11 police departments will get a boost to their online supervision this year, with each region to take on at least one web police officer by March. A special unit of ten web police officers will be established in Helsinki, which is also where the crime investigation unit will be based.
“Providing a way to prevent online crimes and hate speech shows that these issues are taken very seriously,” says Police Board Chief Inspector Måns Enqvist.
The main goal is prevention. That can mean that a web officer gets involved with a restless conversation on Facebook or Twitter. The idea is that the online police presence will have the same effect as seeing a police officer in a coffee shop in real life – it calms people down, in this case from going off the rails in virtual reality.
“This is regular police work (comprised of) advising, suggesting and giving orders. When a certain limit has been exceeded, then the issue will be investigated,” says Enqvist.
The new police will be paid and trained with additional funding from parliament approved in a supplementary budget. The police and the Finnish Security Intelligence Service SUPO supplementary will receive some 10 million euros in additional funding, of which 1.26 million euros is earmarked for the online police.
Police: It’s not a question of restricting freedom of speech
There is a lot of talk about hate crimes and hate speech, but charges and subsequent convictions for hate-speech are relatively rare. For example, during the past five years charges of ethnic agitation in Finland have only been prosecuted 14 times.
Internet surveillance and charges raised against comments made on social media have angered some Finnish residents. For example, Finns Party members Teuvo Hakkarainen and Sebastian Tynkkyen, who have both been convicted of ethnic agitation, have criticized their convictions citing restrictions on freedom of speech.