New Law On Electronic Communications in MK threat to citizens’ privacy
Recently proposed new Law on Electronic Communications, brought up many negative reactions coming both, from civic and from political sector in the Republic of Macedonia, calling it a threat to citizens’ privacy and attempt of the government to create a police state.
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
- MK political parties against the new law
As EDRI reports, Macedonian opposition parties concluded, during the debate on this bill that took place in the Assembly last month, that the amendments to the Law on Electronic Communications would allow the Ministry of Interior to play the "Big Brother".
The allegations of the opposition party SDSM, note that not only the Ministry of Interior would eavesdrop on telephone conversations without any obstruction, but it would also be authorized to monitor the computers of all Macedonian citizens.
The opposition party New Democracy stated that these amendments are not prepared in accordance with the European standards and they are jeopardizing the privacy of all Macedonian citizens. This party also argued that the current government, aside from adopting a law which is not harmonized with the European legislation is also strengthening the position of the Ministry of Interior, thus creating a police state.
- Macedonian NGOs call for protection of citizens’ privacy
Four Macedonian NGOs joined efforts to seek withdrawal of this draft-law from parliamentary procedure.
Metamorphosis Foundation, Transparency Macedonia, Foundation Open Society Institute – Macedonia, and Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Macedonia, seek the withdrawal of the draft-law in order to prevent the invasion of citizens’ privacy in the Republic of Macedonia.
The bill on electronic communication, violates the fundamental postulates of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, in particular Article 17 which guarantees the inviolability of the freedom and secrecy of correspondence and all other forms of communication, because it allows an exception from this principle without a court decision, as well as Article 25 which guarantees the respect and protection of privacy of personal and family life, dignity and reputation.
The bill also violates the European Convention on Human Rights and other international agreements ratified by the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, and does not comply with the provisions of Directive 2009/136/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
The bill also groundlessly expands the basis for the monitoring of citizens’ communications, contrary to the norms established with the Law on Personal Data Protection, the Law on Interception of Communications and the Law on Criminal Procedure.
According to them, a number of imprecise formulations are being introduced with the proposed amendments, creating legal opportunities for arbitrary and unlimited use of eavesdropping and other forms of interception of electronic communications, without the possibility to be controlled according to the principles of transparency and accountability.
The bill allows the Ministry to have a “constant and direct access” to the electronic communications networks and facilities of the public communications networks operators and providers of public communications services, as well as “conditions for independent downloading of traffic data”, which would make the Republic of Macedonia one of the few, or probably the only country in the world in which a state authority has such powers, without the possibility for external control .
Obliging the operators “to provide the appropriate equipment and interface at their own expense” for monitoring and storage of communications will cause significant expenditures for their operations which can lead to an increase of the cost of their communications services for consumers and on the other hand is an opportunity for the operators that have significant market power to improve their dominant position on the market.
The process of preparation of the draft amendments has been non-transparent and non-inclusive, without the participation of relevant institutions (the European Union’s Delegation to Macedonia, the Directorate for Personal Data Protection), as well as the expert public, the private and civil sector.
- MK Government: The Law is clear and up to EU standards
Despite of the reactions and claims coming from the NGOs and opposition parties, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, Goran Mihajlovski, claims that the proposed amendments to the Law on electronic communications have been prepared in accordance with the latest report of the European Commission.
According to the Deputy Minister, the amendments clearly define the authorizations and responsibilities of relevant institutions, therefore enabling the further development of the competition, the liberalization of the electronic communications, the entry of new operators and the introduction of new services and affordable charges for the citizens.
"Brussels expects the government to submit the adopted Law on Electronic Communications. The Commission has not been consulted about the adopted amendments, and Brussels would comment once it receives the text of the bill", announced the Delegation of the European Commission in Skopje.
- HRH Sarajevo / Lejla Mazlic