TBILISI, DFWatch–The Georgian parliament on Sunday overturned the president’s veto and approved the a surveillance bill which gives the Interior Ministry direct access to communication operators’ networks and to eavesdrop on citizens.
82 MPs voted in favor of the bill and 13 against. 76 votes was required to overturn President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s veto.
This was the second time he went against his own bloc. The first time was when Georgian Dream wanted to postpone the ‘keys issue’ until February, a difficult last piece in a surveillance reform which it has proven hard for lawmakers to reach agreement on.
Many civil society actors were against the bill that was passed last Friday, as they see it as a threat to privacy. Margvelashvili shared their skepticism and, explaining his reason for vetoing it, said that it does not provide the proper balance between security and human rights.
He suggested an alternative bill, which stipulated that a court was to implement surveillance under supervision of the Personal Data Protection inspection. “This is a model where functions are distributed correctly and which provides balance between human rights and state interests. I hope parliament shares my position,” he said after his veto on Saturday.
However, the parliament rejected his version of the bill, and the final adopted version provides for a system where two keys are necessary in order to carry out surveillance; one will held by the Interior Ministry and the other by the Privacy Protection Inspector.