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15.12.2003

Be careful! You are monitored!

   

On 26 November the public hearings «On the monitoring of telecommunications» was held. The adherents and opponents of the control over the users of the Internet and other telecommunications met at the hearings for the discussion.

The public hearings were opened by the speech of the USS deputy head Anatoliy Gerasimov. In his speech he dwelled on the basic provisions of the law draft. In the main, he spoke about the technical aspects of monitoring and remarked that human rights were guaranteed by other laws. In particular, he pointed out that he did not see any effective system of civil control over the process of monitoring of telecommunications, which system could be introduced in Ukraine. So, the logical question appears: would somebody develop such system? Mr. Gerasimov also expressed his uncertainty whether this law would be adopted at all, since, he said, some of the provisions of the draft had been already stipulated in the recently adopted Law «On telecommunications».

«The development of the national system of monitoring and the means of the access to all operators of telecommunications is realized by the USS, together with otherlaw-enforcingorgans, for many years; all in all, there exist 28 owners of licenses for the development of the means and systems of monitoring», said Anatoliy Gerasimov.

Besides, the right for using the monitoring system is rendered to seven subjects of the ODA, among them three structures with the right to control.

The second speech was delivered by Evhen Zakharov, a co-chairmanof the Kharkov group for human rights protection (the resume of the speech is given below. — The editor’s note), who turned the attention to the fact that human rights in this sphere were not guaranteed by laws and the legislation did not correspond to the international standards.

For example, the procedure of issuing the sanctions for collecting the information from the communication channels does not agree with the European standards. Courts still apply one legal document: Letter of the Supreme Court No. 16/6 of 19 November 1996 «On the temporary procedure of consideration of the materials about issuing permissions for getting into dwelling or other estate of a person, seizure of correspondence and the collection of information from communication channels (telephone talks, telegraph and other correspondence)». This letter was not registered either by the Ministry of Justice or in any legislative base. According to Article 57 of the Constitution of Ukraine, it is invalid. So, there exist no legal guarantees of human rights. So, what «other laws» the representatives of special services meant?

The necessity of legal guarantees of human rights is also confirmed by the fact that in 2002 more than 40000 permissions for the collection of information from communication channels were issued, and this number significantly exceeded the number of the convictions for grave and especially grave crimes. So, whom the Ukrainian special services control?

Volodymir Malinkovich, a representative of the Ukrainian branch of the International Institute of humanitarian and political research, also told about the necessity of the introduction of legal guarantees of human rights into this law, in particular, by adding the special section that would regulate these questions. Yet, he believes that this law is not needed in our country, because the restrictions of human rights, which have been recently introduced in the Western countries, are connected with the menace of terrorism, but such menace does not exist in Ukraine. At the same time, the lack of the freedom of speech exists in Ukraine, so the expediency of the adoption of this law seems to be very doubtful.

In the opinion of many participants of the hearings, this law is needed, but the main goal of this law must be the guaranteeing of human rights in the connection with the monitoring. The state, represented by the state organs, is interested only in the monitoring procedure and its introduction at the expense of the telecommunications users, and not the state budget. Under the conditions, when the parliamentary majority exists, which approves the laws needed to the state, but not to the society, the adoption of some recent laws looks quite logical, as well as the assurances of the special services that the monitoring system will be created.

It should be also noted that to date, according to the information of the State committee of communications, 4 providers have already installed the monitoring equipment. A. Gerasimov affirms that there are already 10 such providers, and, by the assessment of the representatives of business circles, this number is about 50. However, we want to remind that there exists no legal base for the infringement on the personal right for privacy and confidence of correspondence. So, on which grounds the special services control the users of these providers?

Secretariat of the Council of Ukrainian human rights protecting organizations

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