The Information Society Code clarifies the regulation of electronic communications and imposes more responsibilities on market operators

The new Information Society Code entered principally into force on 1 January 2015. The Information Society Code codifies the provisions concerning electronic communications under one act. Prior to the Information Society Code, regulation was scattered across several separate—now repealed—acts, such as the Communications Market Act, the Act on the Protection of Privacy in Electronic Communications, the Domain Name Act, the Act on Radio Frequencies and Telecommunications Equipment, and the Act on Television and Radio Operations to mention a few.

The main objective of the Information Society Code is to clarify the regulation and remove overlaps. But the Information Society Code is also intended to increase trust in the use of electronic services. Hence, in addition to being a more uniform legislation, the Information Society Code expands the rights of the users and imposes more duties on companies operating in the field.

One of the key changes to the provisions on the protection of privacy in electronic communications is that some of the responsibilities which earlier concerned mostly telecommunications operators and providers of added value services have been extended to apply to all operators who transmit electronic communications, including social media companies. Moreover, the Information Society Code extends the application of the provisions on the protection of privacy to international operators established in the territory of Finland or otherwise subject to Finnish law. The terminology concerning electronic communications has also been clarified; for instance, the concept of identification data has been replaced with traffic data.

Provisions on the rights of users and subscribers in communications services (entering into force at the beginning of July 2015) will expand the duties and responsibilities of telecommunications operators in offering communications service agreements. Once the provisions enter into force, connection agreements will have to include sufficient information, worded in a clear and understandable language, as to the content of the service and the terms and conditions of a consumer’s rights as a user of such services. In addition, a telecommunications operator will be held jointly responsible with the service seller for services and products that have been ordered and paid for with a mobile phone.

The Information Society Code grants additional powers to the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, Ficora. For instance, Ficora can interfere in the pricing of companies possessing significant market power by setting a maximum price for the company’s wholesale product. The Information Society Code also changes the licensing system in the electronic communications market, assigning a significant part of the programme licensing decisions for television and radio broadcasting to Ficora.