Nokia in hot water over Finland privacy flap

Government ministers' data may have been sent to Microsoft servers, and police are accused of violating privacy laws.

nokia

Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia is under fire today over revelations that its Lumia line of Windows Phone-powered handsets sent personal data – including information from phones used by senior members of Finland's government –  to Microsoft servers in the U.S., according to a report in the Helsinki Times.

The revelations made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden – in particular, the allegation that major U.S. tech companies like Microsoft cooperate with the NSA to spy on users – prompted an investigation by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, the newspaper said. Independent sources said that senior management at Nokia had long been aware of the large amount of data being sent to Microsoft servers.

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This happened just a year after Nokia pitched its products to the Finnish authorities as being among the most secure on the market, subsequently winning a large amount of business from the government. Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen uses a Lumia, according to the Times.

Katainen wouldn't be the only European leader to be personally affected by the NSA's surveillance efforts. German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly rebuked the U.S. government last year after it was revealed that her personal phone was monitored by the NSA.

Nokia's public image is unlikely to be improved by the revelation that it may have helped pass Finnish government information to the U.S. Forrester Research analyst John Kindervag said that Nokia, and all companies complicit in these espionage efforts, largely deserve what they get.

Business leaders have turned a blind eye that's now been blackened by customers who expected more

— Forrester Research analyst John Kindervag

“Business leaders have turned a blind eye that's now been blackened by customers who expected more,” Kindervag told Network World. “The moral of this fable is slap the hands of folks trying to steal your customers' pie. Protect your customers before they punch you in the face.”

Until 2012, Nokia was the largest global cell phone vendor by market share, and almost certainly the most well-known Finnish company in the world. The smartphone era has been less kind to Nokia, however, as its market share has slipped dramatically. The company's close partnership with Microsoft – in particular, its exclusive use of Windows Phone as an operating system until very recently – hasn't helped it keep up with Apple and the companies making Android-powered smartphones.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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