Finland regularly features in the list of countries with the best quality of life and education. It is estimated that at least 92% of the population have access to internet and the fact that Finland was the first country to declare access to high-speed internet as a legal right (2010), shows the government’s commitment to ensure that everyone can enjoy the benefits of this technology. This has allowed Finland to become a hub for the development of popular apps and mobile games.
In addition, the country consistently ranks high when it comes to freedom of press. The constitution protects freedom of expression and also guarantees the right to exercise freedom of expression in mass media. Journalists can generally work without any kind of restrictions and death threats or physical attacks are almost unheard of. However, defamation is considered as a crime and many journalists have faced convictions due to their views on public figures.
In some cases, legal actions (or the threat of filing them) have been used to deter the work of journalists and some have been targeted by online trolls due to their political views. When it comes to internet users in general, online censorship is very limited. However, many ISPs are part of a “voluntary” program lead by the authorities, which seeks to prevent child pornography by implementing filters. The program involves a secret list and it has raised controversy since it has also affected websites that are not related to child pornography.
Critics of the program have pointed out that very little has been done to take action on the illegal websites and that since the list is secret, it can be used to censor other websites that are not in violation. It has been reported that the government is also considering introducing a similar filtering system to tackle online gambling. In addition, the Pirate Bay and similar websites have been blocked as a results of court orders.
Data retention and Copyright
In spite of the extended use of internet and the general freedom enjoyed by people in Finland, due to the data retention laws in place, the country can be considered as one of the least friendly ones for privacy. Data can be stored for 12 months and ISPs are required to share user data with the government. The information can be accessed by the relevant authorities without a legal warrant. Additionally, the government doesn’t have to report violations of data security or loss of data to the user involved, or to data protection agencies.
While downloading/ uploading copyrighted content is illegal, according to surveys conducted between 2008 and 2015, at least %20 of people admitted to have been involved in some form of only piracy. Many users in Finland have been affected by the practice known as “copyright trolling”. This means that they have received letter from copyright enforcers demanding a cash settlement if they want to avoid legal proceedings. Although the government is still working to establish a new copyright directive, users who intend to use torrenting websites should use a VPN.
A VPN would not only secure your online traffic when using BitTorrent, but will also keep your privacy protected when you are using other applications or simply browsing internet. Given the threats to privacy and the fact that although censorship is not strict, the authorities in Finland have the legal resources to push ISPs to block certain websites, it is important to use a VPN to defend your online freedom. Plus, a VPN will give you the possibility of accessing content and services that are only available in countries like the US and the UK.
VPNs for Finland
With ExpressVPN you can get access to servers in 87 countries and thanks to the high level of encryption of their service, your online data will be protected from eavesdroppers. Their speeds are fantastic and allow you to stream and download content seamlessly. Since they don’t keep logs of your online activity and they are based in the British Virgin Islands, where no strict data retention laws are applied, ExpressVPN will help to keep your privacy safe.
Based in Panama, NordVPN is one of the most reliable solutions to defend your online privacy. They are committed to protect your online traffic with a high level of encryption so your ISP or the government won’t get access to it. NordVPN doesn’t keep logs and accepts Bitcoin as method of payment. Options like Tor over VPN, Double Data encryption and Kill Switch, add an additional layer of security for your data. They have a wide selection of servers so you can find an option that suits your needs.
Based in Hungary, Buffered has raised to become one of the best solutions in the VPN industry. They are dedicated to help you to protect your online privacy and their fast service will also allow you to bypass restrictions and access online content easily. Buffered has servers in over 30 countries and it is continuously working to implement advanced technology to defeat blocks and ensure that your privacy is secure when you are connected to internet. They support P2P and have a no logs policy.
Private Internet Access
PIA is not only one of the cheapest and most popular VPN services out there. They are also known for the good quality of their service and their solid commitment to privacy. There are over 3,000 servers available in 24 countries, including convenient nearby options for users in Finland who want to stream geo-blocked content or disguise their location. They don’t keep logs of you online activities and support Bitcoin as method of payment.