Tyranny for ”our own good” it’s said.
So the US has the NSA spying on its people, and the Finnish police are keeping records (albeit for only six months) on anyone the police receive suspicious tips about, without citizens being able to ascertain whether or not the police have them on file. The breach of our civil liberties is always explained that it’s for the protection of all, though that ambiguous claim is never backed by concrete fact.
Even if they do manage to cough up a few incidents where they manage to arrest a perp and/or solve a crime, it comes at the expense of civil liberties. Not catching all of the crooks all of the time is the price we pay for being a free people. The same can be said of the mandatory police stops checking for drunk drivers, where the motorist is required to stop and give a breath analyser test regardless of the lack of probable cause.
The police, like drones, stand there waiting for every third car or so, flag them down and corral the drivers into a long line, and one by one as they move down the line, demand to let them shove a plastic whistle into your mouth and blow. If that isn’t undue governmental force, then what is?
NOTE: All my Finnish readers taking a dissenting view to my POV, please feel free to register your views in the comments, I await them with glee.
At the turn of the new year a new police “register of observations” came into use. A person can be added to the database if their conduct is deemed suspicious, either by police or if a member of the public reports them. The register will contain observations related to criminal activity, or suspicious behaviour.
Yet although everyone has the right to make a Subject Access Request to police once a year to find out what information is held about them, information on this new register will be exempt from public checks.
“Someone could be included on the register if there’s a suspicion they’re preparing to commit a burglary, for instance,” Harri Kukkola of the National Police Board said. “That person might have gathered tools to potentially carry out the crime, such as a crowbar,” he said.
An individual can be added to the register on the basis of observations reported by a neighbour, such as the smell of cannabis, suspicions of domestic violence or photographing children in a public place.
The Police Board insisted, however, that only specific and defined incidents will be noted on the register.
“It is essential that only observations deemed as relating to criminal activity will be recorded on the register. Officers will make a case-by-case assessment of whether an observation should be included,” Harri Kukkola said.
Data will be kept for six months, but there will be no way for the public to check what data is held about them. An individual will, however, be able to appeal to Finland’s Data Protection Ombudsman to find out whether the information held about them is being kept in line with data protection laws – but will still not know what the information actually contains.
Fight against crime
”This means a person will have the right to check that the information collected does not go beyond the boundaries of what the law allows,” Kukkola said.
The National Police Board say the new register will help the fight against crime, but that inclusion on the register will not necessarily lead to charges being brought.
“The register will considerably reduce abuse of observational information on a nationwide scale,” Kukkola said. “A single police officer has until now kept observations in their notebook, meaning it’s of little use in a broader analytical context. The electronic system allows for data to be used more widely,” Kukkola said.
The new observation register is a part of the police’s information network, which also includes citizen data held in the Administrative Affairs Information System – mainly regarding licencing matters. Police also keep a suspect information database, as well as two international registers, an emergency response information system and a register of aliens. The Security Intelligence Service also have their own network on which public data is kept.