With a five vote margin, Parliament approved a proposal to postpone discussion of new controversial amendments to the Law on Electronic Communication that would have given the Interior Ministry unrestricted access to communication data.
The new amendments to the Law on Electronic Communication had been tabled by Members of Parliament of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and coalition partner Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF).
The proposal to postpone the discussion was tabled by Atanas Shterev, MP for Bulgarian New Democracy (BND) and was accepted with 81 to 76 votes and one abstention, Bulgarian news site Mediapool.bg said.
Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) leader Martin Dimitrov said earlier that the proposed clauses were rejected less than a month before and that parliamentary rules would not allow the texts to be discussed in this session. According to Dimitrov, the proposal would turn Bulgaria into a police state.
BSP MP Radoslav Ilievski, responsible for pusing through the amendments, said the argument that the amendments violated parliamentary rules was no longer valid as deputy president of the National Assembly Lyuben Kornezov (also BSP) had rejected this stance a day earlier.
After the bill was postponed, Interior Minister Mihail Mikov said work to re-establish access would continue. "Obviously there are MPs, especially in the opposition, who do not want the police to be especially effective at their work," Mediapool quoted Mikov as saying.
Mediapool said that not only members of the opposition were against the changes demanded by the Interior Ministry. Coaltion partner National Movement for Stability and Progress (NMSP), as well as the Bulgarian Ombudsman and the European Commission had all voiced their concerns, Mediapool.bg said.
Furthermore, the texts of the amendments had been rejected by Parliament's Internal Security and Public Order Committee, while the European Affairs Committee still had to discuss the text.
Despite strong public opinion against the proposed changes, a proposal to discuss and vote on the amendments could be tabled as early as tomorrow, Mediapool.bg said.