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#StopSurveillanceinKS: A Draft Law in Kosovo Proposes Dragnet Surveillance à la NSA

BY Sonia Roubini | Thursday, April 3 2014

The Republic of Kosovo may soon join the list of countries with a government-led mass surveillance program. Kosovo’s Ministry of EU Integration is bringing the first draft of a surveillance law before Parliament tomorrow. The draft law proposes sweeping data collection and retention measures that could affect a set of Kosovo citizens loosely defined as "one or more persons identified in a lawful authorization and whose incoming or outgoing communications are to be intercepted and monitored."

According the draft law’s text, its purpose is to:

set forth rules and procedures of Network Operators and Service Providers with respect to the retention and processing of certain data by Network Operators and Service Providers, in order to ensure that the data are available for the purpose of the investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crimes, through lawful interception of electronic communication requested by Authorized Institutions for the purpose of law enforcement and/or national security.

The law would allow for the mass collection and retention of data including the name, address, email address, logs of phone calls, and data identifying the geographic location of users to be stored for up to twelve months, or indefinitely in the case of data that was been “accessed and preserved."

While the draft of the law suggests that its purpose is to provide data for criminal proceedings, there’s no mention of how institutions will have to prove criminal intent in identifying whose data to collect, or how many individuals could fall prey to the surveillance program.

Another interesting feature of the law is that it not only authorizes Kosovar government bodies to oversee the surveillance and data retention, but also the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo—a deployment of the EU that provides judicial and security assistance and oversight.

Allegedly, the draft law is sponsored by the Ministry of EU Integration as part of its reform process towards a visa liberalization process (the ability of Kosovars to travel is severely restricted within Europe) and eventual EU integration.

Given Kosovo’s weak legal system, and relative lack of judicial manpower, there is a real fear that it won’t be able to ensure that this bulk surveillance and data retention has the appropriate oversight, and that it upholds international human rights standards of online privacy.

Follow the #StopSurveillanceinKS hashtag on Twitter for updates from digital rights activists in Kosovo.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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