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Three options for addressing eavesdropping

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Wednesday, September 24
Local NGOs and the government have failed to achieve an agreement over the eavesdropping problem. Founder of the Georgian Dream coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili stated several days ago that he appears to have been eavesdropped on as well. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili even admitted that the United National Movement (UNM) somehow still has access to the eavesdropping system and continues to eavesdrop illegally. The UNM calls the statements absurd.

A parliament commission has been working on the issue for a few months already and a final decision should be delivered before November 1.

Currently, the Ministry of Internal affairs has direct access to the eavesdropping. The approach is being criticized by NGOs. The commission is discussing three different versions to adopt a favorable solution over the issue for various actors.

The first option is that the ministry should request court permission for the activity. The second is that the ministry will need permission both from the court and mobile providers. The third suggestion is a special department to be created in parliament, composed of around 10 people.

Executive Director of Transparency International Georgia, Eka Gigauri, said that permission must be granted by mobile providers to the ministry.

“The process of course needs monitoring, but we are talking about who should own the key on eavesdropping – mobile operators or the ministry?” stated Gigauri.

The head of the Elections and Political Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, said that in this case mobile providers may have private interests.

“We all agreed about the Internal Ministry, of course they need permission from the court, but who will control the mobile providers? Beeline is a Russian company, Geocell is Turkish, Magti is half American. In my opinion they all may have certain interests in eavesdropping,” Kakhishvili stated.

The head of Parliament's Legal Committee, Vakhtang Khmaladze, thinks that the process must be transparent.

“For example, if a court grants access for eavesdropping on 10 people and someone decides to eavesdrop on 11, it must be inserted for future investigation,” Khmaladze stated.