Official Calls for Separate Browser, Operating System for EU

Finland's finance minister wants the bloc to be less reliant on tech giants.

From left, Finnish Minister of Education Li Andersson, Minister of Interior Maria Ohisalo, Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Minister of Finance Katri Kulmuni at a news conference in Helsinki, Dec. 10, 2019.
From left, Finnish Minister of Education Li Andersson, Minister of Interior Maria Ohisalo, Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Minister of Finance Katri Kulmuni at a news conference in Helsinki, Dec. 10, 2019.
Vesa Moilanen, Lehtikuva via AP

HELSINKI (AP) β€” A top Finnish government member wants the European Union to develop its own computer operating system and internet browser to reduce reliance in the 27-nation bloc on tech giants.

Finnish Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni said in a speech Wednesday that an EU-developed operating system would β€œmake our continent less vulnerable and ... lower dependence on a few companies.”

Finland is home to telecommunications gear maker Nokia Corp, one of the world's top three developers of 5G networks along with Sweden's Ericsson AB and China's Huawei.

"Hostile influencing through managing computer networks and data is the biggest (security) risk we face in the future," Kulmuni said without naming any companies. She added: "U.S. and Chinese competitors are ahead of us."

Kulmuni stressed that Europe needs to become self-sufficient in the cyber domain and be "a trailblazer" in information technology including in developing AI and the new generation 5G mobile networks.

"In practice, being self-sufficient in the cyber world means, for example, creating a European operating system and www-browser. The EU could also act as the issuer of digital certificates," Kulmuni said in her address, without providing further details.

President Donald Trump's administration has been highly critical of the leading role of Huawei in developing 5G networks and the alleged security risks associated with the Chinese company.

Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General William Barr suggested Washington should invest to buy a controlling stake in either Nokia or Ericsson in efforts to curb Huawei's domination of the industry.

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