With 87 votes for and 2 against, the Georgian Parliament today adopted a final draft of a law that will establish a covert surveillance agency under the auspices of the State Security Service.
The agency will manage and oversee the surveillance of phone communications, computer systems, post-office transfers, covert audio, photo and video surveillance.
The head of the agency will be appointed by the Prime Minister of Georgia after a seven-member commission will select three possible candidates.
The commission will be comprised of the head of the State Security Service, Deputy Head of Supreme Court, the chairperson of parliamentary Legal Issues Committee, the chairperson of parliamentary Defence and Security Committee, the chairperson of parliamentary Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, the Public Defender and a representative of the Government of Georgia.
The parliamentary majority prepared the new bill after the Constitutional Court struck down current legislation allowing police to have direct, unrestricted access to telecom operators’ networks to monitor communications unconstitutional last year.
Under current legislation, covert surveillance operations have been carried out by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Personal Data Protection Inspector (PDPI) of Georgia; however, the PDPI had to give its consent to government agencies requesting permission to undertake surveillance operations.