Personnel security clearances are part of recruiting

Supo may perform personnel security clearance vetting on anyone whose work involves access to premises that are important for security or processing confidential information.

Illustration - two people sitting by a table.

Supo performs all Finnish security clearance vettings aside from those conducted by the Defence Command within the Defence Forces.

Supo takes special care to ensure respect for fundamental rights when performing security clearance vettings.

Security clearance vettings are governed by the Security Clearance Act.

Supo conducted cnearly 69,000 security clearance vettings in 2019. About half of all personnel security clearance vettings are completed for government agencies, with the rest conducted for private businesses.

Security clearance vetting may be concise, standard or comprehensive

The scope of a security clearance vetting will depend on the individual’s duties and on the required privileges, such as access to confidential information. This scope then determines which data sources are consulted when performing the security clearance vetting. The subject may be interviewed in person where necessary.

The party requesting security clearance vetting (most commonly a prospective employer) and the subject of the vetting (usually a job applicant) will initially complete the relevant forms and submit them to Supo. 

Concise security clearance vetting

Concise security clearance vetting may be conducted, for example, when the individual’s duties involve accessing secure premises, handling nuclear or explosive materials, or transferring substantial assets. 

Concise security clearance vetting may examine:

  • the Population Information System,
  • criminal records, the register of fines and the business prohibition register,
  • convictions and past or pending cases submitted for criminal prosecution that are recorded in the judicial administration information system,
  • individual records held by the police,
  • the Defence Command Military Justice Register,
  • individual records held by the Border Guard,
  • the information systems of the Finnish Customs,
  • registers of occupational and business operating licences, and
  • the aliens register and visa register.

Standard security clearance vetting

Standard security clearance vetting may be performed, for example, when individuals may significantly compromise national security, national defence, preparations for a state of emergency, critical infrastructure or the national economy in the course of their duties. 

All of the data sources used for a concise report may also be used in standard security clearance vetting. The procedure may also consult the Supo operational information system, the Defence Command security information register, the distraint register, the credit information register, and the police intelligence system subject to certain conditions. 

The subject’s foreign interests may also be investigated when considering certain positions. Supo will then assess whether a person seeking a position or function of national security significance has any dependencies on another country that increase the likelihood of exposure to exploitation, extortion, bribery or other inappropriate influence.

Comprehensive security clearance vetting

Comprehensive personnel security clearance vetting may be conducted, for example, when individuals handle classified or top secret information otherwise than occasionally in the course their duties. 

In addition to register data, comprehensive security clearance vetting will examine the details of an individual’s business activities and their family and kinship relations. Any assets, debts and other financial dependencies will also be investigated. Sources will include public tax information, with the subject asked to consent to an inspection of information available from financial and credit institutions.

Comprehensive security clearance vetting always includes a personal interview with the subject and an investigation of any foreign interests.

Comprehensive security clearance vetting may also include standard security clearance vetting of the subject’s consenting relatives and close associates. 

Foreign  interests may be investigated 

Supo may investigate an individual’s foreign interests where necessary. These may concern such aspects as citizenship, working in another country, and any foreign property holdings or business operations.

Foreign  interests are an increasingly common element in the lives of many people in Finland, and their presence does not impede  security clearance vetting. Supo always assesses the importance of foreign interests from the perspective of the prospective duties concerned. The aim is to identify any aspects that could expose the subject to pressure, exploitation, bribery, or other undue influence at work. 

Supo also issues opinions to the Finnish Immigration Service concerning applications for citizenship and residence permits.

The Evaluation Criteria Committee issues recommendations on statutory interpretation

The Evaluation Criteria Committee at the Ministry of Justice issues recommendations for interpreting the Security Clearance Act to Supo and the Defence Command.

The Supreme Administrative Court issued a precedent decision for publication in its 2020 yearbook concerning security clearance vetting that was performed when selecting a student for training at the Police College of Finland.