The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) published the study, according to which citizens of the country do not believe that their privacy rights are protected – residents of Georgia believe that law enforcement agencies are engaged in illegal wiretapping.
The question of the need to protect privacy has become top issue in Georgia after the parliamentary elections in 2012, when thousands of illegal recordings of secret surveillance were revealed.
There has been some progress in terms of investigation of cases of illegal surveillance, but doubts on continuing systemic practice of illegal surveillance are still present. Public opinion did not change fundamentally after 2012, when the current government took the power.
“Again, there is a feeling that the police illegally use technical means to wiretap”- noted in the study.
The Constitutional Court of Georgia in April 2016 ruled unconstitutional the law, which allowed the State Security Service to conduct secret surveillance of telephone and Internet communication of citizens.
When making a decision the court was guided by the fact the State Security Service has unlimited technical possibilities of “wiretapping” and surveillance.
The Court also found unconstitutional the provision that allowed storing information, as this increased the risk of abuse of authority and violation of the right to privacy.
The Constitutional Court gave Parliament time to react on the decision and change the laws by March 31, 2017. The government and the Parliament have less than 3 months until the deadline to prepare fundamental legislative amendments following the decision of the Constitutional Court of Georgia.
It’s impossible to carry out a fundamental reform of the rules of wiretapping without the creation of an effective system of control over the security forces and a certain limit to their own power. Lack of willingness from the government to limit its’ power indicates a lack of efficient and comprehensive reform in this area.
Today, the authorities do not take decisive steps in this direction, which only indicates they do not have enough political will to implement the changes highlighted in the document.