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Tracing the transmission chains of coronavirus – How and under what conditions?

Publication date 6.4.2020 13.35
Artikkeli: Luotettavasti, turvallisesti joukkoliikenteessä. Ministeri Timo Harakka
Ministeri Timo Harakka (Kuva: LVM/Keksi)

Currently, there are a lot of different digital services spreading around the world for charting the coronavirus transmission chains and for helping us in the fight against the virus. The cause is noble: to be able to use mobile phones to find those people who were in contact with the carriers before they knew they were carrying the virus.

Solution must be based on voluntary action

Should we have such a digital solution in Finland? We do want to seek a way out of the exceptional situation that has closed down the entire society, and that is putting limits on civil liberties and is harmful to the economy. And, we want to be early in detecting the next wave of coronavirus infections. We must be ready to act swiftly.

It is absolutely necessary that people view the solution positively. In the European Union, the level of data protection is high — as it should be — because it is a fundamental European value. For this reason, the digital charting of contacts can only be based on the consent of the user. Information collected through voluntary services must be absolutely safe.

Three million users needed

We must strengthen people’s own capacity and willingness to act for their own benefit and for the best of society. Namely, the services are genuinely useful only if they have been widely employed. The target must be a utilisation rate of at least 60%.

That is, as we politicians tend to say, a challenging challenge. The Finnish 112 application has been downloaded 1.6 million times, but the 60% utilisation rate would require three million users in Finland.

We want to protect older people, in particular, from the coronavirus. It is fantastic how many of them have benefited from digital services during the state of emergency. Nevertheless, a large proportion of them are not accustomed to using even smartphones. Many people over 70 absolutely need others’ help in overcoming this digital challenge.

Private and public operators to cooperate

We are now in a situation that calls for exceptionally close cooperation between different stakeholders. The main responsibility in this project must lie with the health authorities, because the contact information must help, in the best possible way, in achieving the principle aim: to limit the spreading of coronavirus. 

Matters relating to electronic data protection and information security are my responsibility, and I promise I will do everything in my power so that we will have a reliable and technically valid application available.

Companies must now also cooperate extensively so that we can opt for a single, well-functioning solution covering the whole of Finland. Indeed, both technology companies and the sector have been excellent in contributing to the common good. Similarly, Finnish innovation funding demonstrates its power in a crisis. I would like to thank you all for your contributions and for your future efforts.

Information security must be flawless

The service must be absolutely reliable and secure and the level of information security very high. I have the National Cyber Security Centre of the Transport and Communications Agency to support me in this task. Together with its own partners, it ensures expertise at the highest level of national information security. The National Cyber Security Centre is closely involved in designing a Finnish solution for charting the contacts.  

We all, the entire society and in particular each and every one of us, must make a contribution. Only with the consent of all the people, can we move forward in a very difficult situation – without jeopardising privacy or trust.

Timo Harakka
Minister of Transport and Communications

2020 Blogit 2020 koronavirus tietosuoja tietoturva viestintä