Press Release: Unauthorized Eavesdropping is Unlawful and Unconstitutional
The Metamorphosis Foundation is greatly concerned by the publicly announced allegations of mass and unauthorized surveillance of citizens, performed through criminal association and official misconduct in the state institutions and/or influential corporations.
We remind that the protection of privacy, the protection of personal data, and the protection of human rights related to freedom and dignity that may be violated by eavesdropping, is stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, according to which eavesdropping without a court order is prohibited:
The freedom and secrecy of correspondence and all other forms of communication are guaranteed. Only a court decision may be used to deviate from the principle of inviolability of the secrecy of correspondence, and only if it is required for a criminal investigation or if it is in the interest of the defense of the Republic.
The security and secrecy of personal data are guaranteed. Citizens are guaranteed protection against infringement of their personal integrity arising from the recording of information about them, obtained via data processing.
The protection of privacy as a principle is integrated in a number of laws, one of which is the Law on Personal Data Protection, harmonized with the applicable European directives, in accordance with which the citizens’ personal data may be processed only on a legal basis, for a specifically defined purpose that justifies the processing for a specific period of time, after which the data processing should cease. The Criminal Code explicitly prohibits unauthorized eavesdropping and recording (Articles 151 and 152) and prescribes prison sentences of up to three years. On the other hand, the 2014 EC Progress Report on the Republic of Macedonia indicated that it is necessary to further adjust the sector-specific laws in order to fully comply with the European regulations on personal data protection.
“The right to privacy is an extremely important human right, and the threat to privacy is also a direct threat to our freedom. Authorities must make the decisions on wiretapping and surveillance in accordance with the applicable laws. Those decisions must not be arbitrary decisions made by individuals who have the power to do so. The allegations for mass eavesdropping of more than 20,000 citizens are very serious and the public must seek responsibility from the relevant institutions” said Bardhyl Jashari, director of the Metamorphosis Foundation.
Setting the protection of privacy as a priority in building an information society, Metamorphosis has since 2004 publicly indicated, on a number of occasions, the possibility for abuse due to the lack of Assembly mechanisms for supervision over institutions that have the capacity to conduct eavesdropping, and due to the enhancement of that capacity (via the amendments to the 2012 Code of Criminal Procedure) without any accountability mechanisms for a number of state bodies.