This Affects You campaign objects to any delay in adopting the legislative amendments which regulates secret government surveillance - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

This Affects You campaign objects to any delay in adopting the legislative amendments which regulates secret government surveillance

25 May, 2014

Last week, there was an intense discussion on the legislative package, which aims to provide progressive changes to illegal surveillance. This initiative was discussed and voted in the following committees: sector economy and economic policy, defence and security, and legal issues. The draft law was discussed at the plenary session, but unfortunately, due to the lack of quorum, parliament failed to adopt it. Parliament failed to adopt the draft law even though it no longer contains the provisions, which prohibited the direct access for investigative agencies to operator services, that were objected by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Organizations, united in the campaign This Affects You, They Are Listening would like to comment on the process. First of all, it should be mentioned that the legislative proposal in the legal affairs committee and the plenary session included a number of progressive provisions, in particular, the draft: defines the crimes of which observation and surveillance activities are allowed; limits the scope of individuals of whom illegal surveillance is allowed; and increases the functions of the personal information protection inspector along with other system monitoring tools. Campaign members welcomed the changes, which had a positive influence on the final version of the draft.

It should be mentioned that the Ministry of Internal Affairs did not agree with the proposed initiatives that limited the access for law enforcement agencies to telecommunication data. As a result, on the basis of the Law on Electronic Communications, a transitional provision was added upon which, law enforcement agencies can have direct access to phone calls until a new commission finds a solution and makes a decision. Thus, despite some progressive provisions, the access to operator services is unsolved, which was the main issue of the draft law.

Parliament did not have the political courage, to end the vicious practice, to strengthen it to legislative level. This is even more unfortunate considering the previous years’ experience, when police had direct access to the mobile operators’ servers and to the personal data, which gave the police the capacity: to create a huge archive on private and personal life; to act without control on their will; to have unfair advantage during the execution of justice; and denial of equality.

Several organizations expressed concern regarding the 16 May session in which parliament could not adopt the agreed changes, which would have been a big step forward in the protection of personal data and privacy. We assume that neither  parliament nor the executive branch used enough resources to change the situation.

In addition, we hope that in a few days parliament will have the political will to adopt the package aimed to prohibit illegal surveillance; thus, following up on the statements made by some Members of Parliament, that after the elections, it will be adopted within the second and third hearings.