About Civil.ge
Eng | Geo | Rus
Last updated: 11:28 - 29 Apr.'17
RSS
Mobile
Twitter
Facebook
Campaign to Rein in 'Unrestricted Govt Surveillance'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 6 Mar.'14 / 15:15

A large group of Georgian civil society organizations have teamed up in a campaign to jointly push for putting in place mechanism that would rein in, what they call, government’s capabilities to carry out unrestricted surveillance.

The campaign, uniting dozens of non-governmental organizations, is called This Affects You. The same name was used by civil society groups when they were campaigning for improvement of electoral environment ahead of the 2012 parliamentary elections; back then it successfully lobbied for some changes, most notably legislative amendments allowing for broader media access for voters.
 
This time the campaign will focus on lobbying for legislative amendments, which, the group says, will help to introduce effective mechanisms for proper judicial oversight over government surveillance practice.

“Each of you can be among those 21,000 citizens whom the Interior Ministry has the capability to simultaneously eavesdrop,” Vakhushti Menabde of Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) says in a video clip released by the campaign group.

Secret surveillance, privacy rights and personal data protection have been a source of concern in Georgia for years already, but the issue became subject of intense discussions with an active government engagement last year and the authorities have pledged to establish strong mechanisms both on legislative and executive level to prevent illegal surveillance. But despite this pledge concerns still remain as law enforcement agencies maintain so called 'black box' devices in the server infrastructure of major telecommunication companies, giving security agencies direct access for simultaneous monitoring of thousands of mobile phone numbers.
 
“For years the investigation bodies had been eavesdropping and carrying out surveillance on ordinary Georgian citizens, journalists, civil society representatives, political activists, defense lawyers, clerics and other persons without any oversight and permission,” the campaign group said in a statement.
 
“The ruling coalition, which came into power after the 2012 parliamentary elections, did not carry out any systemic change in this regard. Despite promises, law enforcement agencies still have unlimited access to the data of communication service operators,” it says.

The campaign group says that while the law enforcement agencies should have capability to carry out surveillance for the purpose of combating crime, the practice should be strictly regulated in order to prevent misuse of these capabilities against citizens who have nothing to do with specific suspected crime under investigation.
 
“The goal of the campaign is to change existing status quo in illegal eavesdropping and surveillance and to create systemic guarantees in order to rule out arbitrary actions by law enforcement agencies,” the campaign group said.

The group will push for adoption of a bill, which was initiated in the Parliament about a year ago, to increase oversight mechanism over government surveillance practice, including through boosting judiciary’s role.  

Interior Minister, Alexander Tchikaidze, said on March 6: “I want to assure you that there is nothing illegal taking place.”

He also said that there’s no reason to be concerned over this issue. “When there was a real reason for that [referring to the period when UNM was in power], certain group of people, who are now actively speaking about it, were silent at the time,” Tchikaidze said.

Latest News
29 Apr.'17 11:28
President, Parliamentary Chairman Clash over Constitution Reform
The Constitutional Reform Commission agreed on the draft constitution text on April 22.
28 Apr.'17 14:23
FH: Press Freedom Declines in Georgia
Georgia scores a point lower in Freedom House’s Press Freedom report.
27 Apr.'17 17:56
Foreign Ministers Open German-Georgian Year
Mikheil Janelidze met his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin.
27 Apr.'17 16:14
Georgia, Romania to Boost Trade, Political Ties
Prime Ministers issued a Declaration on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations.
27 Apr.'17 15:42
Two Persons Sent to Pretrial Detention over Batumi Unrest
21 persons were arrested following the March 11-12 unrest in Batumi.
26 Apr.'17 16:36
Tbilisi Concerned over Jerusalem Patriarch’s Abkhazia Statement
Georgian Ambassador to Israel meets Theophilos III, speaks about his meeting with Abkhaz pilgrims.
26 Apr.'17 13:18
South Ossetia Government Resigns
The region’s new leader Anatoly Bibilov will form a new government in two weeks.
26 Apr.'17 12:13
Watchdog Keeps Georgia’s Press Freedom Index Unchanged
Reporters Without Borders ranks Georgia 64th in the table of 180 countries with 27.76 points in the survey.
26 Apr.'17 10:29
Georgia Ratifies Europe’s Energy Community Accession Agreement
The Parliament of Georgia ratified the agreement with 89 MPs voting unanimously in favor.
25 Apr.'17 17:59
Georgian MoD Adopts Strategic Defense Review for 2017-2020
Defense Ministry considers Russia the primary threat, seeks to strengthen defense capabilities.

About Civil Georgia
Civil.Ge © 2001-2017, Daily News Online
Registered office: 2 Dolidze Str, 4-th Floor.
60