Мacedonia's surveillance story


Since February this year Macedonia’s opposition is revealing recordings allegedly leaked by someone from Macedonia’s secret police. The files, popularly labeled ‘bombshells’, is said to contain taped cellphone conversations of over 20 thousand people (Macedonia’s total population is 2 million). The recordings released so far contain conversations of politicians, mayors, judges. A batch of files have been shared with journalists as well as foreign ambassadors whose conversations were also recorded.

Macedonia was in the news in 2010 (http://boingboing.net/2010/06/16/macedonia-introduces.html) when a new law on electronic communications was enacted, enabling full and uninterrupted access of electronic communication to the police. However, the most intrusive provisions that provided possibility for bulk surveillance from that law were struck down by the constitutional court within months. This means that the wiretapping was made unlawfully. Even the public prosecutor’s office, which for transparency reasons reports on number of cases in which wiretapping was used, show that the lawful cases are around 100 per year. The telecom operators implicated in the surveillance are One.mk, VIP.mk, and T-Mobile.mk. The last one is Mozilla’s partner in Macedonia.

In the past month I’ve been sending FOI requests to the operators regarding their actions on implementing the court’s decisions. So far every operator has declined to answer citing confidentiality provisions in the law. I suspect that the operators either didn’t followed court’s order in disabling the direct link between their servers and the police which made possible bulk wiretapping, or that they have individually allowed surveillance of over 20 thousand people without court order. Whatever the case, it seems very likely that this kind of wiretapping couldn’t be done without their participation.

Following their denial to answer, Macedonia’s law on FOI allows for 3 levels of appeals. My requests are now before the Commission for freedom of access to information of public interest. Assuming that they confirm the ‘confidentiality’ reasons, there are two administrative courts where the procedure can continue.

I will post updates as new information becomes available.

Related links: http://www.dw.de/macedonia-reels-over-evidence-of-orwellian-surveillance/a-18285626


Updating this to keep track of issues arising in Macedonia.

Not sure if anything can be trusted right now, as in the past 10 days we had an alleged terror attack, two major protests of political parties, and alleged media ownership changing hands, but today’s news is that the Electronic Communication Agency (AEK) is considering charging for skype, whatsapp, viber communication: