New Government Guidelines for Enhanced Communications enter into force
The new Government Communications Guidelines, which entered into force on 20 December, define the principles and practices for government communications in situations requiring enhanced communications under normal conditions and for communications during incidents. The Guidelines also give practical advice on communicative preparedness and measures to be taken in different situations, and provide instructions on how to recognise and respond to information influence activities.
The Guidelines lay the foundation for the preparation of administrative branches’ and organisations’ own and joint communications plans. They replace the Central Government Communications in Incidents and Emergencies guidelines, which entered into force in 2013. The English translation of the new Guidelines will be available in early 2020. Separate guidelines on communications in emergencies will be drawn up over the course of 2020.
The Communication Guidelines take into account the Government Communications Guidelines (2016), the Security Strategy for Society (2017), the National Risk Assessment for 2018 (published in 2019) and Countering Information Influence Activities – A handbook for communicators (2019). In drawing up the Guidelines, attention has been paid to certain observations and experiences concerning disturbances and the contingency planning of the authorities, such as preparedness for countering election interference.
The underlying premise of all activities and communications is reliability and trust
The authorities must prepare for situations that arise rapidly, are created and are exceptional, and they must be prepared to use different channels of communication swiftly, flexibly and, where necessary, in several languages.
Government organisations must allow flexible reallocation of resources and personnel within and across different administrative branches. We must all pay particular attention to preparedness and risk management. Management, communications and efficient flow of information at all levels of government form a close-knit unit. Moreover, the authorities must be able to monitor and assess communications systematically. The underlying premise of all activities and communications is reliability and trust.
Preparing for and responding to information influencing is everyone's responsibility
Information and operating environments are being exposed to new kinds of threats, such as hybrid interference, which also includes information influence activities. To prevent rumours and to reduce the risk of false information being deliberately disseminated in different situations, the authorities must be able to provide reliable information in a timely manner. At the same time, we must make sure that accurate information is readily available and accessible
Measures needed to address targeting
The authorities must be prepared for the increasingly common phenomenon of “targeting”, in which one or more actors launch a coordinated campaign of pressure, persecution and harassment against an individual civil servant or their family members on social media or in the physical world. The purpose of the activities is to undermine the authorities and destabilise the conditions needed to maintain the rule of law.
Inquiries: Jussi Toivanen, Chief Communications Specialist, tel. +358 295 160 141, Prime Minister's Office and Kirsti Haimila, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 140 122, Ministry of Defence