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10 NGOs address legislative changes to law enforcement agencies’ powers

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, together with nine other non-governmental organisations, has sent a letter to Sejm deputies responding to the alarming changes to the Police Act and other laws.

The organisations warn that the proposed legislative amendments violate the Constitution and EU laws. The proposed act does not contain, for example, the requirement of obtaining a prior court’s approval for the use of telecommunication and online data, and also fails to establish an obligation to notify targeted persons about the conduct of operational actions following the conclusion of surveillance. The scope of the term “online data” is also unclear: it may include even the content of email messages. The organisations urge the lawmakers to abandon the provisions that extensively interfere with the right to privacy and introduce effective mechanisms of exercising control over law enforcement agencies and secret services.

The organisations propose to amend the bill so to ensure its compliance with the Constitution and implement the Constitutional Tribunal’s judgement from July 2014 concerning the agencies’ powers. “We call for the robust, independent control of access to telecommunication and online data”, reads the letter. The organisations argue that law enforcement services should be given access to telecommunication data only in extraordinary situations, where other measures prove ineffective or unsuitable.

The letter’s signatories think that the introduction of the above modifications to the bill will be conductive to the balancing of two fundamental values: the right to protect a person’s privacy and law enforcement bodies’ right to quickly access information in justified cases.

The full letter is available for reading here.

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