Proposal for establishing information policy as a new policy sector in Finland
On 5 December, the government report ‘Ethical information policy in an age of artificial intelligence’ was adopted by the Government. The report is intended to mark the start of a new cross-government policy sector, information policy. Information policy can be described as policy measures for promoting the good management and effective utilisation of information.
The government report provides a comprehensive view of both information policy and artificial intelligence (AI). The issues are examined in a variety of ways, focusing on the ethical, economic, security and social impacts, and the analysis is from the perspectives of the general public, the private sector and the public sector. The report is intended to stimulate public debate on the issues involved. It includes policy measures needed for making more effective use of information. The vision for Finland’s information policy is that information and technology will be used to serve people’s needs. Information policy measures will aim to encourage people to adopt, apply and make good use of technologies for the purpose of enhancing the quality of life, improving access to and use of services, and boosting competitiveness and value creation.
Report highlights individuals’ rights to their personal data
The themes of the government report include defining information policy, making extensive use of AI, AI competence needs, and the platform and data economy.
The policies set out in the report highlight the need to reinforce the rights of individuals concerning their management and use of personal data. It also sets out a position on robots and AI systems, stating that these should aim to further wellbeing, respect people’s autonomy and fundamental rights, as well as the demands of fairness and justice, and avoid the creation of suffering. A considerable number of projects on these issues are under way in different branches of government, and one of the tasks of information policy is to strengthen the shared objectives of these projects.
Finland to be a leader in information policy and AI application
The government report supports the objective of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s Government to make Finland a leader in the application of AI and in information policy. With the publication of the report, Finland is at the forefront internationally in placing such emphasis on ethical information policy.
On the basis of the government report and the debate associated with it, Finland’s position will be formulated and used as a springboard for influencing the shape of international commitments, regulations and the operating environment on information use. Finland has the opportunity, together with other EU countries, to build and reinforce competitiveness with the aid of an information policy based on robust ethical principles and by means of a strategy for AI. To ensure confidence in AI solutions, these must be based on high-quality information.
The work to prepare the report was carried out as openly as possible and involved extensive cooperation. The work was led by a separate ‘information and AI’ ministerial working group headed by Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms Anu Vehviläinen. Assisting in this work was a preparatory working group made up of representatives from all the ministries, and a secretariat was responsible for the compilation of the report. A broad network of about 200 experts from different sectors of society also took part in the preparation of the report. With the government report now published, the next stage in the information policy work is the production of a roadmap of specific measures for implementing Finland’s information policy.
The government report on information policy and AI is published under Government proposals and decisions (in Finnish and Swedish).
Tuomas Vanhanen, Special Adviser to Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms Anu Vehviläinen, tel. +358 2955 30216, firstname.lastname(at)vm.fi
Päivi Nerg, Permanent Under-Secretary, chair of the preparatory working group, firstname.lastname(at)vm.fi
Olli-Pekka Rissanen, Chief Specialist, chair of secretariat, tel. +358 2955 30364, olli-pekka.rissanen(at)vm.fi
Definition of information policy: jointly agreed principles and policies concerning the practices and procedures for producing, acquiring, moving, opening, sharing, using, maintaining and storing information.