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User-orientation of the service terms of use and other information provided on the service

Register number: OKV/2674/10/2020
Date of issue: 7.6.2022
Decision-maker: Chancellor of Justice
Subject: Government or ministry
Measure: Opinion

The Chancellor of Justice provided the Ministries of Finance and Social Affairs and Health with his views on the Omaolo service in relation to the provision of the Finnish of Constitution regulating the delegation of public administrative tasks to parties other than authorities. In the Chancellor of Justice’s view, the rights of service users should be protected with user-oriented and understandable terms of use and other information provided on the service.

The government-owned DigiFinland Oy provides the Omaolo service – aimed at citizens for the self-management of health – to municipalities and joint municipal authorities based on a commission agreement concluded with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The company develops, maintains and distributes the service. The Ministry is responsible for steering the content of the digital public social and health services provided by the company. Service users may enter into an agreement with the company or be referred to the services of public service providers.

No legal provisions exist on the Omaolo service or DigiFinland’s tasks as the service provider. The Chancellor of Justice deemed that the Omaolo service provided by the company includes various service components, some of which are related to the rights protected by the Constitution of Finland and fall somewhere between public and private services. According to the Chancellor, in addition to fulfilling the obligation laid down in the Constitution to guarantee adequate social and health services to everyone, authorities can take action to encourage citizens to independently take care of their health without this action alone constituting a public administrative task. However, the Chancellor reminded that services provided in addition to or in connection with public services may not violate the service users’ legal right to access public social and health services.

According to the Chancellor, to protect the rights of service users, it is important that they know whether they are using the service of a private or public service provider and what their legal status is in each situation. As a result, the Omaolo service’s terms of use and service instructions must meet the requirements set by the principles of good governance so that service users can obtain the information required for them to easily and clearly understand their legal status. The information provided must be understandable both in terms of language and content.

According to the statement that the company provided to the Ministries, the Omaolo terms of use will be reviewed and the requirements of good governance will be considered. The Chancellor deemed this to be an appropriate measure. The fulfilment of the principles of good governance in informing service users advances and promotes the fulfilment of the rights and obligations set out in the EU GDPR regarding the transparency of the processing of personal data and the rights of data subjects to obtain information. The Chancellor also stated that all parties promoting the use of the service should contribute to ensuring that the service users have access to the information required to protect their rights regardless of whether the information is provided in the terms of use or in some other context.