President Margvelashvili vetoes surveillance bill

  • Margvelashvili together with his wife Maka Chishua and a Georgian delegation will pay a three-day visit to France starting April 20., 20 Mar 2017 - 18:23, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has vetoed a bill on surveillance which the Georgian Parliament passed on March 1.

The law envisages the establishment of a covert surveillance agency under the auspices of the State Security Service, which will manage and oversee the surveillance of phone communications, computer systems, post-office transfers, covert audio, photo and video surveillance.

President Margvelashvili said this morning that he has vetoed the bill mainly for two "shortcomings”:

  • that the law does not guarantee the independence of the new surveillance agency that is planned to be established; and
  • that there are "unjustified and unpredictable costs” that the bill imposes on communications companies.

Margvelashvili said that he has sent the bill back to the parliament, accompanied with several recommendations.

Earlier, Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said that if the president vetoes the bill the parliament would overturn it. A total of 76 votes is needed for the veto to be overturned.

The bill was prepared by the parliament after the Constitutional Court struck down current legislation allowing police to have direct, unrestricted access to telecom operators’ networks to monitor communications last year.

The court said March 31 is the deadline for the parliament to approve a revised law.

Head of the Legal Issues Committee Eka Beselia said that since the deadline is March 31, the parliament will have no time to re-discuss the bill so the president’s veto will need to be overturned and the bill to be approved by the end of this week.