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Freedom not fear – debate and activist action for free communication

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On the occasion of the international initiative “Freedom Not Fear”, the Metamorphosis Foundation in partnership with the Coalition “Citizens for Macedonia” held several events and an activist action on the field. On October 19, the debate “Safety of communications and threats from monitoring and surveillance of communications” was held in the GEM club, and immediately after the debate, a workshop on the safe use of mobile phones was also held.

According to Biljana Volcheska from the Directorate for Personal Data Protection, who participated as a speaker in the debate, the DPDP has not initiated ex officio proceedings on behalf of citizens affected with the materials from the political “bombs”, because none of the citizens have submitted a complaint about this case so far. Namely, while presenting the “bombs”, the opposition revealed that more than 20,000 citizens have been wiretapped.

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She also addressed the role of the telecom operators in the process of eavesdropping and collection and processing of personal data and metadata from telephone conversations. According to Volcheska, telecom operators in Macedonia massively collect all metadata from the conversations of citizens and keep them for 12 months, which is not the case in the EU.

“There are standards according to which communications can be monitored and personal data can be collected, and every violation is actually a violation of privacy. Telecom operators and ISPs should have mechanisms for guaranteeing their user’s privacy, and providing safety and confidentiality of their data and communications. They need to take technical measures to secure the data, and destroy the data if the purpose for their collection has been fulfilled,” added Volcheska.

DON_8462Violeta Gjorgjievska from the “Internet Hotline Provider – Macedonia,” says that with the publication of the “bombs”, a so-called cyber-bullying has occurred against part of the political elite, which is a phenomenon in which a certain group publishes personal data about a person and damages their reputation.

“Cyber-bullying is not defined in accordance with the Criminal Code and I do not know how the cases related to it will be solved. The law on the “bombs”, proposed by the government is an attack on the freedom on the internet and censors it. Such a law cannot be adopted without forming relevant bodies to prevent censorship on the internet,” said Gjorgjievska.

DON_8467Predrag Tasevski, the founder of  cybersecurity.mk, aside from participating as a speaker at the debate, held a workshop on the safe use of mobile phones, during which participants were able to learn more about the methods for protecting their communication.

DON_8479The “Freedom Not Fear – International Action Days” initiative has been present in Macedonia since 2008. This year, the coalition “Citizens for Macedonia” is also joining as a partner.

You can see the video of the debate on “Safety of communications and threats from monitoring and surveillance of communications” below: