Security Clearance Act
Provisions on the procedures to be applied to verify the reliability of persons and companies are laid down in the Security Clearance Act. The objective of the Act is to reduce the vulnerability of society and to protect public interests, such as national security, national defence interests and public safety, and to prevent major economic damage to private parties.
The current Security Clearance Act, which entered into force in the beginning of 2015, replaced the previous act from 2002.
Under the new Act, a security clearance may be carried out regarding employees in a wider variety of tasks than under the previous act. These include tasks related to the maintenance of the infrastructure critical for the functioning of society, such as energy, water and food supply and telecommunications, irrespective of whether they are performed in the public or private sector. In addition, the criminal background of employees manufacturing explosives and transporting valuable goods may be checked.
Security clearance requires consent
There are three types of security clearances: concise, standard and comprehensive. The Finnish Security Intelligence Service is responsible for conducting security clearances in civil matters and the Defence Command for conducting clearances within the Defence Forces.
The Act lays down provisions on the rights and status of the person or company subject to a security clearance. A person who will be subject to a security clearance must be informed of the clearance in advance, for example in the job advertisement. A clearance must not be carried out without consent of the person subject to the clearance. Similarly, a company must give its consent to a security clearance to be carried out regarding it.
The Act contains provisions on the information sources to be used in security clearances. The Act allows, for example, the use of information entered by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in the Suspect Data System under certain conditions, the use of information stored in foreign authorities' registers, and the use of information regarding a person's financial situation, obtained from financing and credit institutions with the authorisation of the person concerned, in comprehensive security clearances.
The purpose of a security clearance regarding a company is to check the backgrounds of the company's responsible persons and to obtain information on the company’s data security level and ability to keep commitments. A security clearance may be carried out regarding a company that is a contracting partner of an authority and has access to classified secret information.
The Act enables the procedure to be conducted also in conjunction with such public procurements that were left outside the scope of application of the Act on Public Procurement in the Fields of Defence and Security.
Register aims to reduce the number of repeated clearances
A register of security clearances carried out is maintained to avoid unnecessary clearances.
Once a security clearance has been carried out, a person working for many different authorities requiring a clearance, for example in installation tasks, may be provided with a certificate proving that a security clearance regarding him or her has been carried out. The certificate may be revoked under the conditions laid down in the Security Clearance Act.
A new authority, Security Clearance Board, has been established in connection to the Ministry of Justice to promote and ensure the consistency of the security clearance procedure. The main task of the Board is to issue general recommendations to authorities carrying out security clearances to help them in the interpretation and application of the Security Clearance Act.