Minister Häkkänen at human rights conference: Protection of privacy is key concern in digital era
On 12 April, Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen attended a high-level conference held in Copenhagen. The conference was organised by Denmark, which currently holds the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and its theme was the reform of the European Human Rights Convention system. In connection with the conference, Minister Häkkänen met with Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and Katarina Barley, the German Minister of Justice.
"Following the recent Facebook data leaks, people have suddenly become aware of the significance of protection of privacy. The German Minister of Justice and I concluded together that Europe should adopt an ever stronger leadership role in the responsible regulation of digitalisation and new technologies," Häkkänen says.
According to Häkkänen, the significance of the protection of personal data will keep on increasing, be it then examined from the perspective of business activities, security or influencing democracy.
"Ever more business functions are based on the utilisation of personal data. At the same time, effective protection of privacy must be guaranteed. We need to strike a balance between the protection of personal data and operating conditions of businesses. The recent examples of misuse of personal data in business activities certainly raise concerns. Legislators must constantly keep an eye on the rapid changes occurring globally and ensure an adequate level of protection of personal data," Häkkänen said.
In his discussion with Secretary General Jagland, Minister Häkkänen focused on the human rights situation in Europe and challenges in the relationship between human rights and artificial intelligence.
"We noted that we share a concern over the current situation where human rights are being questioned in different parts of Europe. Ensuring a proper functioning of the human rights system is one of the most important tasks of the Council of Europe. The European Court of Human Rights plays an extremely important role in defending human rights in Europe," Häkkänen said.
"We also discussed the positive and negative impacts of artificial intelligence on human rights. The utilisation of artificial intelligence must take place in a controlled manner in accordance with the principle of the rule of law. This works for the benefit of all: individual citizens, companies and the public administration," Häkkänen said.
Finland will take over the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe in November 2018.
"The European human rights situation will be one of the key priorities on Finland's agenda. We are concerned especially about the eroding respect for the rule of law and freedom of expression in Europe. Securing the independence of the European Court of Human Rights will be an important theme on Finland's agenda," Häkkänen said.
During his visit to Copenhagen, Minister Häkkänen also met with the Dutch Minister of Justice Ferdinand Grapperhaus.
Lauri Koskentausta, Special Adviser, tel. +358 2951 50131,
Eeva Aittoniemi, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 50170