Protests in Bulgaria against eavesdropping and data retention law

By EDRi · January 13, 2010

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Deutsch: [Proteste gegen Abhöraktionen und das Vorratsdatenspeicherungsgesetz in Bulgarien |]

A protest will take place in Bulgaria on 14 January 2010 in front of the
Parliament against the data retention law that the Bulgarian Interior
Ministry keeps on pushing ahead with obstinacy.

On 10 December 2009, the Parliamentary Committee on internal security and
public order approved, behind closed doors, the amendments proposed by the
Interior Ministry to the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) and on 22
December 2009 the amendments were passed in first reading in an emergency
meeting by the Parliament despite the large public and media opposition.

The proposed amendments contain provisions that allow the Ministry of
Interior and other agencies to permanently monitor, without control, the
behaviour, movement and other information on any Bulgarian citizen, whether
guilty of a crime or not. These provisions breach the innocence presumption
principle stipulated by the Constitution as well as human rights European

Thus, the Ministry of Interior will have access to the data for the calls
and the mobile devices of every citizen through a direct interface. Although
a court order is required in order to obtain access, there is no obligation
to provide a reason for the access. Through the interface, the agencies have
direct and untraceable access to the general national database of all
telecom records.

One of the main provisions is that traffic data should be retained for
crimes sanctioned with more than 2 years of imprisonment. These traffic
data can be used also in relation to computer crimes, which might, in the
near future, include the still vague notion of computer piracy.

Even the Ministry of Interior Tsvetan Tsvetanov accepted that: “There is no
other European Union member state that provides such access to its police
force, it violates article 8 of the European Convention for Human Rights, as
well as the Bulgarian constitution” andalso admitted: ” under the current
proposal, citizens have no right to request information about whether or not
their communication data has been subject to investigation.”

EDRi-member Bulgarian Internet Society head Veni Markovski criticized the
amendments, warning about the lack of control over the bodies that will have
access to the retained data. “Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said they
are looking to use court approval before using retained data, but the
problem is the police will have constant access, without the knowledge of
the service provider, to the data that goes through their system. In other
words, if they want to use this in court they will get permission from the
court. But if they want to use it for something else, be it control,
blackmailing, economic interests, they don’t need the court’s permission,”
said Veni.

An official protest letter was publicly drafted and discussed online and
posted to the Facebook group “We do not want the Interior Ministry to
eavesdrop on us online without control.”

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