The messenger logo

Constitutional Court declares law on eavesdropping as unconstitutional

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, April 18
The Constitutional Court of Georgia considered the lawsuit of the This Affects You campaign and the Public Defender of Georgia, regarding the compliance of a legislative regulation with the Constitution concerning the so-called "wiretapping" and ruled out that the existing surveillance regulations are unconstitutional.

Last week the Court ordered the end of this long-standing practice and deprived the State Security Service of surveillance access keys.

According to the Constitutional Court, the technical capacity of the State Security Service to obtain personal information in real time, to administer it and have direct access to it, contains excessive risks of interference with a person’s right to privacy.

At the same time, the right to copy and keep identifiable data was declared as unconstitutional. The Court drew particular attention to the possession of such data by the State Security Service and noted that copying of data by an agency which has "the function of investigation or is professionally interested in this information, creates excessive risk of interfering with private lives".

Considering that satisfaction of the lawsuit will result in fundamental changes in the legislation, the Court defined March 31 2017 as a “reasonable and sufficient time” for the execution of the decision.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) spoke about the need for creation of an independent investigative mechanism, amendments to the law on wiretapping and implementation of reforms in the State Security Service. Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili has the same approach on the issue. However, he now works on his own project.

“The independent body will be an institution which will not be interested in use of the content of wiretapping,” stated Lika Sajaia from the NGO Transparency International Georgia.

The Parliamentary opposition supports the initiative of the NGOs and is ready to cooperate with them.

“I want to call on Parliament to do their best to give the opportunity for lawmakers to conclude the issue of wiretapping,” a member of Free Democrats, Shalva Shavgulidze, said.

The majority Georgian dream (GD) believes that due to the recent developments in the world, thinking solely about the protection of personal data would be incorrect.

“At this stage, only thinking about the protection of private spaces and not thinking about the security of state and the society would not be correct,” stated Vice-Speaker Manana Kobakhidze.