Finland Min On 6G & Why Citizen Trust Is More Valuable Than Data

India and Finland are collaborating on conceptualising and defining 6G technology.

3 min read
Timo Harakka, Finland’s Minister of Employment spoke to The Quint about Indo-Finland collaboration on 6G technology, leveraging data while respecting privacy and why Indians working in Finland are generally ‘happier’.

“Something that quite a lot of Indians who work in the Information & Communication Technology (ICT) sector in Finland have found fascinating or amazing is that no one is requiring them to work 24*7,” Timo Harakka, Finland’s Minister of Employment, told The Quint during a recent trip to India in the last week of November.

The land of Angry Birds and the birthplace of Nokia and Linux operating system, Finland is among the most advanced digital societies in the world. The minister, in India to promote the country as a destination for investment and skilled workers, spoke to The Quint about Indo-Finland collaboration on 6G technology, leveraging data while respecting privacy and why Indians working in Finland are generally ‘happier’.

“The purpose of the visit is to intensify cooperation between Finnish and Indian companies, to promote the export of Finnish companies, and to encourage Indian companies to invest in Finland,” an official statement of the Finnish government said.


India & Finland To Work on Defining 6G

Finland & India signed a 6G agreement in November but in a scenario where India has struggled with 5G, what exactly is 6G technology?

No one really knows.

Harakka said the first task at hand would be to conceptualise 6G, define it and set its standards.

“Well that’s a very tall order because no one knows what 6G is going to be. We know that 5G has been rolled out in South Korea and Nordic countries including Finland very soon so we get a lot of capacity. Thanks to that capacity a lot of business opportunities that did not exist came to be. And there are things we can't even imagine yet.”

Digital tech majors Wipro and Tech Mahindra will both work jointly with Finland's University of Oulu to develop 6G. Harakka, during his visit to Bengaluru, signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with both companies to collaborate on areas of wireless communication in 5G/6G technology under the university’s flagship 6G programme.

"And I think the first task of this lab that is going to be starting in the University of Oulu, one of the many excellent tech universities we have in Finland, is to define and conceptualise 6G and to find out exactly the needs and opportunities."
Timo Harkka, Finnish Minister of Employment

“But it needs to go the other way round. We need to think about the society and citizens that have needs and purposes,” he added.

'Trust more Valuable Than Data'

India is among the few democracies without a law to protect the personal data of its citizens, and the country has witnessed dozens of data breaches, violations of privacy and attempts at invasive surveillance practices.

Given that the Personal Data Protection Bill received the Cabinet’s approval and is set to be tabled in Parliament, what lessons does Finland have for India in using citizens' data without abusing it?

“You can say that data is the most valuable raw material but I think it goes deeper than that,” Harakka said.

"A society based on trust where the citizens trust the government and trust the businesses is the imperative on which you can build digital services. But if you lose that trust and there are lots of privacy scandals where you have leaks of people’s sensitive information, it is very harmful. So, we make it the very centerpiece of our digitisation policy that we respect privacy."
Timo Harkka, Finnish Minister of Employment

Why Indians May Be ‘Happier’ Working in Finland

One of the three stated objectives of Harakka’s visit was to create interest in Finland as a workplace among highly educated ICT and software professionals.

Speaking with The Quint he acknowledged that while Indians prefer to work in English-speaking countries like the United States, Great Britain, Canada or Australia, Finland had what it takes to attract skilled Indian workers.

“In comparison with UK, US, Canada, Australia which are attracting a lot Indian talent, we can also make a case for Finland that we do speak English, all of us speak English. So that’s not a problem. We have a much better R&D and education system.

“And also, we have been nominated for the third year in a row,” added Harakka.

“And why is that? It’s not just education. It’s also a question of work life and family balance which in an egalitarian society like Finland provides opportunity to be with your kids, be with your spouse and have a decent life and also, educate yourself and get a degree while you’re working there.”

Harakka said that Indians working in Finland found one particular aspect 'fascinating'.

“But the idea is that I try to avoid sending e-mails on Friday nights because some poor person will reply to my email on Sunday evening. I just tell people shut off your machines, don’t work on weekends, don’t work in the nights.”
Timo Harkka, Finnish Minister of Employment

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