Nokia denies threatening to leave Finland

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Nokia denies threatening to leave Finland

Mobile phone giant Nokia has publicly denied claims that it could transfer its headquarters out of Finland if the country's laws on electronic surveillance are not changed.

Finnish daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported that Nokia had threatened to take its business elsewhere unless laws which ban firms from monitoring employees' private emails are relaxed.

According to the paper, Nokia first started pushing for a more relaxed electronic information surveillance law after becoming suspicious that one of its workers was emailing classified information to Chinese competitor Huawei.

Helsingin Sanomat reported that Nokia immediately filed a complaint against the employee with Finnish police, and set about reading through staff emails in an attempt to prove a case of corporate espionage.

The company's actions, according to Finland's current laws, were illegal, but Nokia managed to evade criminal charges for breaching employee privacy owing to a lack of evidence.

Since the incident, however, Nokia has reportedly been lobbying Finland's lawmakers incessantly, demanding a change to the law which would make it easier for firms to spy on staff.

The paper quotes an anonymous civil servant as saying that Nokia had threatened the government that "if the law was not approved, Nokia would leave Finland".

Nokia spokeswoman Arja Suominen strongly denied the accusations, however, claiming that the Helsingin Sanomat article was pure "polemic", and insisting that "Nokia has in no way threatened to move".

Finland's prime minister Matti Vanhanen also dismissed the claims, but did admit in an interview with local TV station YLE that talks with Nokia about the law had taken place.

In fact, a new and less stringent law dubbed 'Lex Nokia' will be voted on by the Finnish parliament this spring.

'Lex Nokia' would allow companies, schools, libraries and housing firms to monitor and spy on internet users' email communications, surfing habits and messaging conversations.

Nokia has significant clout in Finland, employing 16,000 people.

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