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Public Defender Takes Surveillance Regulation to Constitutional Court

Georgian Public Defender has filed a lawsuit in the Constitutional Court against a clause in law on electronic communications, which allows the security agencies to retain direct access to telecom operators’ networks.

In late November Parliament passed government-backed package of legislative amendments, allowing the Interior Ministry to retain its direct access to telecom operators’ servers, but at the same time giving the office of personal data protection inspector the right to electronically authorize law enforcement agencies’ lawful interception of communications once there is a relevant court warrant.

But, as opponents say, as long as the Interior Ministry keeps operating ‘black box’ spy devices in telecom operators’ networks, it can easily circumvent personal data protection inspector and launch unlawful surveillance.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed the bill, but the Parliament overrode the veto on November 30.

“The Public Defender believes that the right of state agencies to have uninterrupted capability to copy metadata [records of which phone number calls which other number, when the calls are made and how long they last] and to receive content of communication in real time violates the right of privacy, envisaged by the paragraph 1 of the article 20 of the Georgian Constitution,” the Public Defender’s Office said on February 2.

It said that lawsuit in the Constitutional Court was filed on January 30.


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