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Bulgaria

Electronic eavesdropping amendments passed at first reading

Author: Rene Beekman Date: Tue, Dec 22 2009 1 Comment, 5834 Views
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With 100 votes in favour, 74 against and five abstentions, amendments to the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) passed first reading in Parliament on December 22 2009.

The amendments contain several parts that have drawn heavy criticism by non-governmental organisations and privacy advocates.

Central to the amendments was a provision to would give the Operative-Technical Information Directorate (OTID) of the Interior Ministry permanent, direct access to the stored communication data of mobile phone and internet operators.

A second part of the amendments that has drawn criticism, lowered the bar for crimes for which the access to stored information could be used from five to two years, including crimes that the Bulgarian Penal Code classifies as minor.

Central argument of the Interior Ministry for the proposed changes were delays with which requested information was produced by mobile phone operators.

"I cannot explain to girls who have been the target of acid attacks that we are waiting for the mobile operator to deliver us the requested information as soon as possible," Dnevnik daily quoted Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov as saying.

Despite the requirement that OTID would only be allowed to access information with a court permission, the fact that the access happens in real-time makes such court oversight meaningless, has been the argument of many opponents.

"This law is a perfect example of how after 20 years of transition, we force Bulgarians to chose between freedom and security, while we should secure both freedom and security," Martin Dimitrov, of the Blue Coalition said.
According to Dimitrov, there was no other country in the European Union where police had such complete and direct access to communication of citizens. Dimitrov proposed that mobile operators should be given a clear timeframe within which to deliver requested information.

Ivan Kostov, also from the Blue Coalition, warned that the current text would be overthrown by the Constitutional Court at the first appeal.

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  • Big brother
    • Anonymous
      Ben Franklin Rating:
      neutral
      #1 20, 11, Tue, Dec 22 2009

      People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.

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