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II. Surveillance policy

Communications surveillance

A draft law is before the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) aimed at protecting the privacy of mail, telephone conversations, telegraph and other correspondence. The draft law prohibits interception of information from mobile communications, unless it is for counterterrorism reasons or on the basis of a court order. The draft law does not have any guarantees against wiretapping.1

In April of 2007, the Verkhova Rada set up an investigative commission to identify the officials at the Ukrainian Security Service who allegedly gave orders to install wiretaps and track the movements of lawmakers, Constitutional Court justices, members of the Central Election Commission and the public.2 No determination has been made at this point.

In February 2005, President Yushchenko ordered the National Security Service (SBU) and all government organizations to end all illegal surveillance.3 In July 2005 the SBU Chief at the time, Oleksandr Turchynov, said "that the SBU no longer engaged in illegal surveillance operations and had created an office for combating illegal wiretapping. He also instructed other government organizations to turn in their wiretapping equipment." However, there are complaints that electronic eavesdropping is still taking place.

"According to a board member of the Internet Association of Ukraine, the SBU monitors up to 70 percent of Internet traffic. On August 17, 2006 the Ministry of Justice abolished the 2002 decree by the State Communications Committee on mandatory monitoring of Internet traffic in the networks of providers that service public institutions. This decree had allowed security services to legally monitor e-mail communications and Web site hits of individual Internet site users."4

Ukrainian wiretapping equipment is currently owned by various governmental authorities, in particular, the Ministry of Interior, the State Frontier Service, Tax Militia of the State Tax Administration, the Department for Execution of Punishments, and intelligence agencies.5 Specific data about the scope of wiretapping of telephone talks in Ukraine are not known since the official statistics are not provided by governmental authorities. However, it was reported that in 2002 the courts issued over 40,000 authorizations. It was officially confirmed that in 2003 the Appellate Court of Chernivtsi oblast, which is the smallest region of Ukraine, issued 823 permits for wiretapping in communication channels.6 The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group claimed that special units at the Security Service of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and State Tax Administration obtained over 11,000 permits for telephone tapping in 2005.7

The Ukrainian Supreme Council has supported a resolution to create a parliamentary ad hoc commission to investigate violations of the confidentiality of telephone conversations.8 Last year, the Supreme Council parliament renewed prosecutor supervision over people's and politicians' constitutional right to privacy of telephone conversations and correspondence.

Currently, the main electronic classifier, which is the basis for collection and processing of the personal data of Ukrainian citizens, is an ID code provided by the State Tax Administration.9 The scope of its use constantly grows and extends far beyond the goal for which it was originally introduced – tax accounting. Failure to obtain an identification code would make it impossible to be legally employed, be provided with retirement benefit, exercise the right to education, be granted scholarships and unemployment benefit, register subsidies, open bank accounts, and register oneself as a business entity, etc.