Frequently asked questions about information requests
The Digital and Population Data Services Agency maintains a description of how it manages the information kept in its registers, such as the personal data on citizens and the agency’s customers. The information is kept in data repositories and case registers.
The main purpose of this description is to help the agency’s customers in the making of information requests. The description helps you to specify the information that you need so that the agency can compile and deliver the information as quickly and comprehensively as possible. If necessary, we will help you to specify the information that you need so that you will get the right documents.
By maintaining this description, the Digital and Population Data Services Agency observes the principle of openness in public administration.
An official document is a document in the possession of a public authority that has been prepared by a public authority or that has been delivered to a public authority for the consideration of a matter. A document prepared on the basis of a mandate given by a public authority is also an official document. Documents sent to a public authority for the performance of a task are documents delivered to a public authority.
As a rule, the following documents are not considered official documents:
documents delivered to public authorities or elected officials that have been sent to them because of the other tasks they perform or other positions they hold
notes prepared by a person employed by or acting on behalf of a public authority
documents obtained by a public authority for internal training, information retrieval or other similar purposes
documents that have ended up in the possession of a public authority as lost property.
Under the law, you have the right to obtain information about matters processed by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency and the right to access a wide range of official documents. You always have the right to access public documents processed by public authorities and documents containing information about you. A public authority must also provide you with access to non-public documents if the matter processed by the public authority in question concerns your rights, interests or obligations. In specific cases, you also have the right to access secret documents. These rights are regulated by law.
You have the right to access an official document that is public. Providing you with access to a document that is not yet public (because the matter is still pending or for other reasons) is at the discretion of the public authority in question. You will be notified of your right of access as soon as the matter is completed. If your information request concerns a public document, you do not need to give reasons for the request or state the purpose for which the information would be used.
You may only access secret official documents or their contents if this is permitted under the law. If only specific sections of a document are secret, you may be granted access to the other parts of the document. However, this will only be done if it can be ensured that none of the secret information is disclosed to outsiders.
You have the right to access information contained in an official document if the information concerns you personally and granting access to such information is not contrary to important private or public interests.
In this context, important private interests may concern the protection of privacy (such as details of illnesses), safety of an individual, or the protection of trade secrets.
Important public interests may concern such issues as external threats to state security.
Furthermore, a public authority may not be able to provide details of a document when the matter is still pending. In that case, the public authority in question may provide details of the matter at its discretion.
If you are a party to the matter, the public authority processing the matter must also grant you access to the non-public contents of the document that may influence or may have influenced the consideration of your case.
A party to the matter means the applicant, appellant or other persons whose rights, interests or obligations the matter concerns. The party to the matter may be a natural person or a legal person (association, company or other corporation). A public body or its organ can also be a party to the matter if the matter concerns its interests, rights or obligations.
However, a person who is a party to the matter does not have the right to access a document if granting access to this document would be contrary to important public interests, the interests of a minor or other important private interests.
Moreover, a person who is a party to the matter can only be granted access to presentation memoranda, draft decisions or similar documents produced for the preparation of a matter after the public authority in question has considered the matter.
You can request from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency any public information in its possession. If the matter does not fall within the agency’s purview, we will refer the matter to the relevant authority.
You can request information about yourself or specific documents, or you can simply check your personal data kept in the agency’s registers. You can check your personal data kept in the Population Information System on the personal data page of the Suomi.fi Web Service.
Processing an extensive and inadequately structured information request is difficult and expensive for the customer and the Digital and Population Data Services Agency. The agency may thus have to charge a fee for processing such requests.
In an information request based on document publicity, the public authorities must provide you with the documents that may have influenced the decisions concerning you. If often happens that when making an information request based on document publicity, you also get access to information on persons other than you. This is on a case-by-case basis and depends on the matter concerned. You can only be granted access to information about persons other than you within the limits of personal data protection and applicable secrecy provisions.
The request to check your personal data that you make on the basis of data protection legislation concerns your right to view your personal details that the controller has entered in its registers. You may only access your own personal data on the basis of such requests.
There are no provisions specifying the format of written requests based on document publicity. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency will ask you to verify your identity in a reliable manner if this is necessary so that the agency can exercise discretion or determine your right to obtain the information as a party to the matter or in other capacity.
The Digital and Population Data Services Agency may exercise discretion in matters in which no decision has yet been made or the matter is otherwise pending.
You can make the request to check your own personal data in writing, electronically or orally. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency must, however, verify your identity before it can disclose any personal data.
Information requests based on document publicity are processed without delay and the Digital and Population Data Services Agency will grant access to the public document in question within two weeks of receiving the request for accessing the document. If the request concerns a large number of documents, the documents contain secret information or there are other reasons why processing the matter takes more time, the Digital and Population Data Services Agency will make its decision on the matter within 30 days of receiving the request for accessing the documents.
If you make a request to check your own personal data, the Digital and Population Data Services Agency will deliver its reply within 30 days of receiving the request. In the event of a large number of requests or requests of complex nature, the agency will respond by stating that more time would be needed the process the requests. If the agency states that it cannot process the matter within the 30-day time limit, the deadline will be three months from the initial request.
As a rule, the Digital and Population Data Services Agency will grant access to the documents in its possession as follows:
as a printout or as a copy of the original
as a technical recording or in other electronic format
You may also be provided with a chance to view, listen
or copy the information in the agency’s premises.
These methods of access apply to both public documents and information provided on the basis of right of the parties to the matter to access the information. The position of the person making the request is irrelevant.
The information concerning a request to check your own personal data is delivered to you in writing, orally or (on a case-by-case basis) by electronic means. Please note that you must verify your identity when making the request (Article 12 of the General Data Protection Regulation).
If the Digital and Population Data Services Agency refuses to provide you with the requested document or give any information about the document:
you are informed of the reason for the refusal
you are told that the matter can be referred to a public authority
you are asked whether you would like the matter to be referred to a public authority (if you have requested the information in writing)
you are informed of the fees charged for processing the matter.
The process of meeting the request for checking one’s own personal data and the requested information itself are free of charge. If you request more than one copy of the documents concerning your personal data, the controller may, however, charge you a fee covering the costs arising from the measure. (Article 12 (5a) of the General Data Protection Regulation)
When the Digital and Population Data Services Agency rejects an information request based on document publicity, it makes a decision on the matter. If the answer to your information request has not been comprehensive enough, you can make a more detailed request to the agency. If, despite making a more detailed request, you still think that you have not received the requested information, you may appeal against the agency’s decision to an Administrative Court.
If you have made a request to check your own personal data to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency but the agency has not delivered its reply by the deadline set, you can contact the Data Protection Ombudsman on the grounds that your data protection rights have been violated. Depending on your choice, the Digital and Population Data Services Agency will give its reply in writing or in electronic form so that it is easier for you to submit the matter to the Data Protection Ombudsman for consideration. The answer given by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency is not an administrative decision that could be directly appealed against to an Administrative Court. The decision made by the Data Protection Ombudsman in the matter is an administrative decision and you have the right to appeal against it to an Administrative Court.