20 thousand wiretappings in 2010


A draft law has been registered in parliament which binds communications operators and providers to buy special equipment which law enforcement bodies will use for wiretapping. The initiators claim in this way to be planning to fight terrorism and corruption. However human rights groups believe that wiretapping is abused in Ukraine, pointing as evidence to statistics issued by the courts regarding interception warrants. Over recent years accusations have also come from politicians, journalists and businessmen that their telephone calls have been tapped, with nobody being brought to answer.

The draft law if passed would oblige mobile operators and providers to install equipment for intercepting communications, i.e. wiretapping, providing information about calls, interception of emails and other electronic data. At present the law on telecommunications does not include the obligation to buy this technology. Furthermore, in the current legislation Internet providers are not mentioned at all.

Now some National Deputies want to force providers to themselves provide the opportunity to carry out surveillance of citizens claiming that in that way they will bring order with the technology needed by the Security Service [SBU] among private companies and formally include providers in the legislation. They say that this is to fight terrorism and enhance intelligence work.

Communications companies do not believe that they should have to provide the technical conditions. The Shadow Minister of Internal Affairs, Hennady Moskal is also convinced that this is the business of law enforcement agencies themselves. He says that it was envisaged in the legislation on investigative operations and sees no need for additional normative legal acts, simply good technology as in the West.

Human rights activists say that such tapping has intensified, especially over the last year. Yevhen Zakharov, Co-Chair of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group believes that ever fewer people are protected from tapping. He says that from 2005 to 2008 the number of warrants a year rose from 15 thousand to more than 25 thousand. As for last year the Head of the Supreme Court recently named a figure of around 20 thousand.

Slightly adapted from the article by Yevhenia Klochko at

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