The Movement for LIberty - European Georgia party held consultations with NGOs regarding the law on secret surveillance proposed in parliament. The legislative package will have its third hearing in parliament today. It was approved with its first hearing on February 23. During the second hearing, MPs from Movement for Liberty walked out of the parliamentary plenary session in protest.
One of the leaders of the party, Davit Bakradze, elaborated his party's position: "Unfortunately, illegal eavesdropping remains an important problem in Georgia. The new law proposed by the parliamentary majority won’t improve the situation; it will get worse and basically eavesdropping will be legalized... The approval of the law does not mean that the problem is solved. Together with NGOs, we will discuss future plans on what should be our next steps to make the government put an end to the unlawful practice of eavesdropping."
The legislative package proposes to create a Operative-Technical Agency of Georgia, which will be under the governance of the State Security Service. Its responsibilities will include: Hidden surveillance of phone communication; getting information from computer systems; control of post office transfers; secret audio and video surveillance, photographic surveillance, and more.
The parliamentary chairman, Irakli Kobakhidze, had rejected an initiative from Movement for Liberty - European Georgia MP Sergi Kapanadze to postpone the hearing of the legislative package.
MP Kapanadze explained the reasoning for his proposal: "When many organizations, including the President and mobile operators, don’t agree with several changes, I think that if consultations continue and the hearing is postponed, there is more chance of getting everything done in a constitutional way.”
The legislative package was proposed by the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority group; a previous legislative package on surveillance which they proposed was ruled as unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in April 2016. The social anti-surveillance campaign “This Affects You too” has previously commented on the potential risks and dangers of the legislative package.