Digital Rights in Bulgaria

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We have to abolish Regulation ? 40, which gives the Ministry of Interior the right to retain data for every Internet-user who has an e-mail, instant messaging software or simply surfs the web, appealed the member of the Parliament, Mr Nikolay Kamov during the discussion of the scandalous enactment.

He added that he could enter a request for its abolishment as a representative of the Bulgarian Parliament.
The discussion was chaired by the ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Ginyo Ganev.

Arguments and reasons on the subject gave representatives of the Ministry of Interior, State Agency for Information Technologies and Communications, MPs, NGO members, journalist and many others.

The problem is that free citizens will be under surveillance; citizens who are not suspected criminal; not guilty nor defendant, Mr Bogomil Shopov explained, member of e-frontier.

He added that through the Regulation the State becomes the main violator of the rights and freedoms of the people, because the Ministry of Interior will have the physical possibility to use the gathered information for any other reason. According to Shopov this makes the Bulgarian citizen guilty until the proof of the contrary.
Nobody has the confidence and the guarantees that the guards will obey the rules, created by them, Dimitar Stoyanov, Bulgarian representative in the European Parliament, said to the audience.

It cannot be allowed an European Directive, which is the reason for the making of Regulation No 40, to violate the rights of Bulgarian citizens, he added.

Ekaterina Boncheva from the so called “Dossier Commission” said that the regulation resembles the totalitarian projects “Vihren”, “Pirin” and “Rhodopi”, which are related to bugging and surveillance of opponents of the political system of that time. This Regulation has no future, Boncheva added in conclusion.
The ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr Ginyo Ganev underlined that there should be a balance regarding the human rights, affected by the regulation.

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On Jan. 30, the Bulgarian government promulgated Decree 40, which, among other things, allows the security services to gather from each internet user the data about who they have written to, who is on their contact lists, what instant communication agents they are equipped with, when they used them and the precise manner of using them. Institutions attributed the act to the requirements of Directive 2006/24/EC, but the majority of internet users in Bulgaria interpreted it as an encroachment on their civil liberties.

The civil initiative Electronic Frontier published on the internet a petition (BUL) against the decree, signed by over 1150 people already, and a number of Bulgarian bloggers put banners to support the campaign on their blogs.

Read more here.

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A protest against Directive 2006/24/?C, which allows traffic data to be gathered for every single Internet user, was held yesterday (07.02.2008) in Sofia.

The demonstrators made it clear, that retention of e-mail correspondence, Internet traffic and any similar information, which is to be kept for 1 year, is directly violating the rights, laid in the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria and it cuts across all moral principles.

The demonstrators were also against the requirement, which states that the user should be identified by his/her IP address, together with other information such as personal citizen number, address on which the service is being used and the user’s full name.

Data retention gives the State enormous powers. With this tool it is able to watch and control its citizen’s personal lives, and this is in violation of the fundamental right of inviolability of personal life and protection of the secret of documentation. It is formally justified with the necessity of protection of the national security and crime prevention: namely terrorism and child pornography distribution

This regulation makes it obligatory for the providers of Internet services to keep and submit data on their expense, thus indirectly terminating smaller Internet providers and making the others invest huge amount and efforts to fulfill the requirement. The process of data retention is impossible without filtering all the packages which is risky, because the content may be read and directed in another direction; that was one of the numerous comments, heard at the protest.

People in Bulgaria don’t trust the authorities, who are supposed to keep and access the information, because of the number of violations done while keeping other personal data and because of the special characteristics of our political system. All these things add some more worries for our rights in the global net.

The campaign was covered by all majour Bulgarian TV networks, newspaper and electronic media. Electronic Frontier Bulgaria (EFB) representatives took part in several TV talk shows, debating the very same problem.

Electronic Frontier Bulgaria, who organized the protest, stated that next week they were going to attack the regulation in the Supreme Administrative Court and they were going to start discussion with political parties in order to find adequate answer to the Directive, which violates basic human rights. The Constitutional Court is expected to be approached, as well as broader informational campaign on the subject, which will be targeted on clarifying the seriousness of the regulation’s requirements.

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You can see the statewatch report on this problems here: efrontierbulgaria-ombudsman

Bogo

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