Debates in Parliament: Who should maintain direct access to mobile operators data (Updated blog)
Who should maintain direct access to mobile operators data? Members of Parliament had to choose between Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili’s initiative and Vakhtang Khmaladze’s draft law. In this blog post, we will provide you with the information about the debates that followed the discussion in the Parliament.
Context and General Information
The draft law prepared by parliamentary majority MPs Eka Beselia, Irakli Sesiashvili and Gedevan Popkhadze, according to initiators, suggests a two-level system, according to which the direct access to telecom operators’ data should be allowed to the Personal Data Protection Inspector and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The second draft law presents the initiative by Vakhtang Khmaladze, which, unlike the above-mentioned draft law proposed by his colleagues, suggests transferring the right to maintain direct access to mobile operators’ data to the National Communications Commission.
The participants of This Affects You campaign have also presented their legislative proposals which are drawn from the best European practices. According to this draft, only mobile network providers (to whom the users have entrusted their personal data) should have direct access to this data and they should be the ones handing the information over to the state institutions given that the court or prosecutor’s (in emergency situations) order is presented. The proposal supported by the campaign has not yet become a draft law.
Two of the law initiatives have received a variety of comments. Prime Minister, as a part of the governing coalition, has supported the project by Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili. However, this project was criticized by the parliamentary minority, claiming that the draft law goes against the regulations obtained on August 1. 2014. The participants of This Affects You campaign have also labelled the regulations suggested by this draft law as a step back.
Concerning the draft law presented by Vakhtang Khmaladze, the Head of Committee on Juridical Affairs, has not received support neither from the Prime Minister, nor the members of the governing coalition.
November 29, 12:00 Update
President Giorgi Margvelashvili has vetoed the Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili bill, noting that it failed provide “right balance” between the security and human rights. At least 76 votes are required for the Parliament to override the veto.
The MPs discussed the draft by Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili on the second and third reading. The bill is adopted with 74 votes against 45.
November 27, 19:30 Update
With 58 votes against and 75 in favor at the first hearing, the Parliament has supported the legislative initiative by Beselia, Popkhadze and Sesiashvili.
Vakhtang Khmaladze’s initiative failed with 61 votes in favor and 71 against.
At the moment, Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili initiative is being discussed on the second Committee hearing at the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee. The discussion of draft law on the second hearing at the plenary meeting is also planned for today.
November 27 Update
At the beginning of the meeting, Eka Beselia (Georgian Dream), author of one of the draft laws (the Two-key System: MIA/Personal Data Protection Inspector), delivered a sum-up speech and noted that since the critics saw a problem in the Inspector’s involvement in this process, namely the right to click so called “button” and only control the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and stated “If you consider that this will better represent the controlling function of the Personal Data Inspector, then let us discuss the following proposal: let the process be held in one stage, instead of two, and so called “key” will stay in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Personal Data Protection Inspector will only be the person who monitors the process.”
- On the amendments needed in the Criminal Law Procedure Code, Eka Beselia claimed that she also considered the propositions by the NGOs and the Personal Data Protection Inspector to immediately provide the latter with the information about the beginning of the secret investigations in urgent cases.
- After this speech, the members of United National Movement – Chiora Taktakishvili and Khatuna Gogorishvili asked questions. Chiora Taktakishvili said that it was impossible to understand what they were voting on. She also considered the following circumstance irrelevant: “MIA is writing a program, where it provides the Personal Data Inspector with a new function.”
- Khatuna Gogorishvili (UNM): In case when the petition about the surveillance sent by the investigation institutions to the court is not granted, is it possible to resubmit the petition again if new circumstances appear? How much time is needed to prepare for the technical issues in terms of the draft law?
- Shalva Shavgulidze (Free Democrats): The presented two-key system and the controlling function of so called Personal Data Protection Inspector considers only telephone tapping. Why does it not include the matter of internet communication?
- Tinatin Khidasheli (Georgian Dream): When defining the responsibility, the function of the operational-technical department is unlimited in terms of monitoring any person.
- Pavle Kublashvili (UNM): What do you mean under two-stage digital system, is it the so called Two-Key system and is it possible for the Ministry of Internal Affairs to create a parallel system, so that the Personal Data Inspector cannot access it.
Vakhtang Khmaladze (Georgian Dream) presented the all of the remarks by the Committee on Juridical Affairs and noted every flaw of the draft law. Later, he also pointed out that the authors of the draft law have misunderstood the previously mentioned remarks. He also raised a question whether the Operational-Technical Department (so called OTO) is rightful to hold the covered investigational actions or not and should it be. He also asked how the telephone tapping is conducted if the direct link between telephone companies and MIA does not exist.
Vakhtang Khmaladze was asked questions by some Members of Parliament: Akaki Minashvili’s (UNM) question was connected to the functions and the role of Operational-Technical Department, Gigla Agulashvili (Georgian Dream) – asked about the implementation of the monitoring and control by the Personal Data Protection Inspector. About the OTO functions, Khmaladze noted that it should only be a way for the authorized person, such as investigator, to guarantee the execution of investigatory actions. He should not listen to or analyze the information.