Georgia: President Moves to Limit Surveillance, Parliament Acquiesces

Published: 31 October 2014


The Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia parliament majority has said it won't try to overturn a first-ever presidential veto on the issue of government electronic surveillance of citizens, as reported by the portal.

Earlier on Oct. 31, President Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed a bill that would have stalled tough new controls on government surveillance that were passed this summer.

The summer vote had delayed the new controls until Feb. 28, 2015. Margvelashvili's veto means government officials must institute the new controls by Dec.  1.

Public opposition to what is believed to be widespread government surveillance of citizens has been intense. As the Interpress portal reports, Margvelashvili described the current survaillance program as disgusting and unacceptable.

Under the new rules, the Ministry of Interior must meet higher standards in seeking court approval for its surveillance program, which has been under fire by civil society and human rights organizations. The new rules also strengthen the authority of the personal data ombudsman.

A major issue remains unresolved, however, In the past, OCCRP has reported on the ministry's unrestricted access to servers via so-called «black boxes» installed at internet service providers through which it monitors communication of citizens without public oversight. The new rules do not address this issue.

Davit Saganelidze, leader of the parliamentary majority group, said that the parliament majority supports the president’s objections.