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IN THE INFORMATION SOCIETY

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PEKKA O Linna


Dear Sir/Madam,

I wish to draw your attention to the following issues I feel are very important and very much related to this Green Paper.

  1. All citizens in the member states are obliged to obey numerous laws, directives etc. The number of laws is increasing every year.
  2. Violation of the laws may lead to a severe punishment, fines or other sanctions, even if the violation was simply caused by the fact that one cannot be aware of all laws and regulations issued by the various bodies during the last 200 years or so, at least without hiring a lawyer. This is especially difficult to owners of small family enterprises.
  3. Modern tools are now available for analysing and accessing the large amount of information. Why are they NOT used in some countries to improve citizens’ access to laws and regulations? One reason: obviously to protect the monopoly of a small group of professionals, i.e., lawyers (attorneys) and their huge income, based solely on the fact that most people simply cannot cope with simplest of laws and regulations, because access to public information is restricted, in practice, to professionals.
  4. Finland is perhaps the most advanced European country in the use of internet. Even here, although NEW laws are now available without extra charge in the internet, it is in practice virtually impossible to compile any particular COMPLETE text of a law using the internet. Reason: laws change from time to time, and normally only those parts which are amended are published in the “law on changing the law”. In order to know which are the valid paragraphs, one needs to check all past legislation from present to 16th century or so. This “differential encoding” of laws de facto prohibits use of internet for obtaining information on valid laws and directives.
  5. In order to check that the new law is a good one, during the preparation and processing in the parliament, it is absolutely necessary to prepare a complete version of each new or amended law in electronic format. Therefore the information must be available, if not, it should be for the members of the parliament. But it is not made public, it seems, in order to ensure continuing demand for legal services. Services offered by professionals charging fees as high as 500 Euro per HOUR.
  6. Publication of full texts of valid laws is the monopoly of a society of lawyers, and the “law book” or its electronic (CD-version) is very expensive and not easily available. Public libraries sometimes have copies, but often only very old versions are available, and the use of the paper format is difficult.

Conclusions:

All Member States should make the full and complete texts of all valid laws, directives and other similar regulations available in the internet, free of charge, for anyone to read, copy and search.

If the full text of a law or other regulation is not made publicly available free of charge, citizens should not be obliged to obey it.

Yours sincerely,

Pekka O Linna 
Pekka.Linna@sonera.fi 
Espoo 
Finland

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