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The News in Brief

Thursday, January 12
Parliamentary Group on Amending Surveillance Regulations Launches Work

An ad hoc parliamentary working group was established to draft amendments to Georgia’s surveillance regulations for bringing it in line with the Constitutional Court’s decision that ruled certain provisions of the existing regulations as unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Court ruled on April 14, 2016 that the legislation allowing the State Security Agency to copy and store the personal data for two years and to have direct, unrestricted access to telecom operators’ networks to monitor communications is unconstitutional.

The court said then that it understood “the fundamental legislative amendments, as well as institutional and technical application of the new system”, stemming from this verdict, required time and for that reason, set the March 31, 2017 as the deadline for implementing the court decision.

The parliamentary working group, which is led by Parliamentary Legal Issues Committee Chairperson Eka Beselia, includes MPs, representatives of executive and judiciary authorities, as well as the non-governmental organizations, who have been campaigning for the restriction of security agencies’ direct, unfettered access to telecom operators’ networks for almost three years within the “This Affects You” campaign.

The campaign participants have developed their own legislative proposals, in which, among other issues, they insist on transferring the so called “surveillance key” from the State Security Service to an independent agency.

The United National Movement claims that the government will not agree on removing the surveillance function from the State Security Service.

The particular model which will replace the existing surveillance regulations will be developed by the parliamentary working group.

“We all agree on one thing, that the protection of our citizens’ security should be guaranteed and this responsibility of the state should be secured by all relevant instruments, so that [we manage] to avoid disproportionate interference in the privacy – we all agree on observing this balance. We also agree that we may think about additional control mechanisms, external control besides personal data protection inspector and the court, which will be kept as an external control tool anyway. We are also thinking about increasing the parliamentary control,” Eka Beselia said on January 9 after a meeting with representatives of the “This Affects You” campaign.

Beselia, who was the co-author of the regulations, part of which was considered unconstitutional, added that “we cannot afford such an experiment” and “further increase the threats” in Georgia, which “has rather difficult geopolitical location.”

In 2014, Parliament passed the package of legislative amendments setting tighter rules for the law enforcement agencies to carry out surveillance activities, including through introduction of higher standards of justification required for security agencies to obtain court warrant on surveillance, as well as through increasing authorities of the personal data protection inspector. But the key issue, which has been in legislation since 2010 and which allows security agencies to operate the so called ‘black box’ spy devices in telecommunications service providers’ networks, remained unchanged.

After Parliament passed the package, President Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed it, but Parliament overrode the veto. The amendments failed to allay the concerns of civil society groups, who claim that until the security service retains direct access to telecom operators’ servers, law enforcement agencies will be able to carry out illegal surveillance bypassing the personal data protection inspector. The Constitutional Court called for amending the disputable provisions based on the lawsuits filed by the Public Defender and the “This Affects You” campaign organizers. (

President’s annual report to reflect “all important issues”

According to Parliamentary Secretary Ana Dolidze, the President’s annual report will reflect all the important issues that bother the Georgian population.

She refrained from elaborating on further details.

“We have not launched consultations in this regard. Naturally, the report will reflect all important issues that bother the Georgian population. I cannot provide further details,” said Dolidze.

MPs will listen to the President at the beginning of the spring session. A review of the most important state issues by the President once a year is envisaged by the constitution.

According to the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, it usually takes place on the first day of the spring session. (IPN)

EU interested in Georgia’s capabilities for migration

Zviad Kvachantiradze, head of the Committee of Diaspora and Caucasian Issues, has met with the Head of the European Union Delegation to Georgia, Janos Herman.

Visa liberalization for Georgia, the ongoing processes in the EU countries and the issue of migration were discussed at the meeting.

As Ambassador Janos Herman said at the meeting, migration is one of the serious challenges in the EU countries and the EU is interested in Georgia’s role and capabilities in this direction. According to him, it is important the Parliament to have a coordinator of the mentioned issue.

The two sides discussed future cooperation and agreed on that more meetings will be held to address a number of issues.

"We have had interesting business relations with the EU Delegation for years. At today's meeting we discussed prospects of cooperation in various directions", - Zviad Kvachantiradze said after the meeting. (IPN)