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Parliament approves surveillance bill

By Messenger Staff
Friday, March 3
The Parliament of Georgia has approved the ruling team's proposed surveillance draft law that envisages the establishment of an agency under the State Security Service have access to secret wiretapping.

The March 1 solution came after the Constitutional Court of Georgia rejected the previous law on surveillance with the Interior Ministry and Personal Data Protection Inspection having the access to surveillance, and stressed that law enforcement agencies must not have direct access to such information.

The opposition and the civil sector are strongly against the adopted version, saying it contradicts the verdict of the Constitutional Court, as the new agency offered through the bill will be under a law enforcement body.

The civil sector doesn’t exclude to appeal the new model to the Constitutional Court again or in the Strasburg court.

The Parliament-adopted law reads that the legal entity of Public Law (LEPL), entitled Georgia’s Operative-Technical agency, would be created under the country’s State Security Service, and the head of the agency would be selected by a special commission composed of seven people: the head of Georgia’s State Security Service, deputy head of Georgia’s Supreme Court, the head of Parliament’s Legal Committee, the head of Parliament’s Defence and Security Committee, the head of Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, the Public Defender and a Government representative.

The agency head would appoint his/her deputies, and the agency preamble would be confirmed by the Prime Minister.

The draft law introduces the position and a new role of the Supervisor Judge from the Supreme Court who will allow the carrying out of surveillance and would also monitor the enforcement process.

The direct control on the law enforcement activities, i.e. on surveillance, would be carried out by the Personal Data Protection inspection via a special electronic system. The inspection will specify how legal the surveillance process is and if not it will be able to suspend the enforcement.

Parliament, through its parliamentary control mechanism, will also control the activities of the new agency, and the agency will also be held accountable to the Prime Minister with annual statistical data and a report.

The agency will be eligible to copy the telephone communication data of a target individual for no longer than 12 months and of an internet communication for no longer than six months. The period can be lengthened for three months.

It is very likely the law will be appealed in the courts again and the Constitutional Court may reject it once more.

However, there are some new faces in the court who may also play a role in favour of the new model.