The Associated Press
updated 10/17/2003 5:47:55 AM ET 2003-10-17T09:47:55

Finland has proposed a new law that would let parents track the movements of their young children via mobile phone, even without their consent, in a move that could set an EU benchmark in privacy and handset use.

THE PROPOSAL is part of a new law on privacy in electronic communications and could still be changed in parliament hearings, although the Nordic country’s coalition government accepted it unanimously this week.

Parliament will likely start discussing the proposal early in November, but state officials and politicians said it was too early to estimate when the law could be passed.

“Roughly similar legislation will be a reality in the European Union area in the near future,” said Juhapekka Ristola, an official at the transport and communications ministry.

He said other countries may follow the example of Finland, home to the world’s largest mobile phone maker Nokia, because the proposal is based on the EU’s directive on privacy and electronic communications.

According to the draft, individuals aged 15 or older could only be tracked after giving their consent, but for children under 15 such consent could also be given by their parents or guardians.

In emergency situations people can still be tracked without their consent regardless of their age.

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Finland’s top two mobile operators, TeliaSonera and Elisa, currently offer positioning services which locate the phone user based on the mobile base station he or she is nearest to.

TeliaSonera says the positioning works from between 100 yards in congested areas to 12 miles in less populated areas.

Finland is a world leader in mobile technology, and last February topped the World Economic Forum’s list as the most tech-savvy country in the world.

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