July 28, 2008

Serbian State Agency to Have Access to Internet Users’ Private Information

Text of report in English by Serbian pro-western Belgrade-based Radio B92 website, on 28 July

Belgrade, 28 July: A state agency in charge of telecommunications will make ISPs submit their users' private data, it has emerged.

The Republic Agency for Telecommunications, RATEL, on 11 July adopted a rulebook that forces internet providers to submit such details as users' e-mails and browsing history to police, with the aim of fighting cyber crime and terrorism in the country and abroad.

According to this, the state will have access to e-mail senders' personal data, e-mail content, and location from which the messages are being sent. Answering criticism that collecting such information can only come on signed court orders, RATEL chairman Jovan Radunovic said that "not all e-mails and internet traffic will be intercepted", rather, "only that for which the state institutions have secured appropriate permits". "If they get a court order then they can monitor the location that one uses the internet from, and only then they can view the content. These rules are not under RATEL's jurisdiction. RATEL has, in order to provide protection from terrorism, enabled the state organs to do this. We expect they will respect all privacy rules," Radunovic was quoted as saying. However, Milos Zivkovic, who is a legal expert in this field, says that the rulebook does not contain any mention that the surveillance can only be carried out in strict adherence to the laws and constitution - something he believes must be specified. The decision, which pertains to large internet providers forming a network, also means that they will have to purchase new software and hardware. It remains unclear whether the expensive new equipment will raise the price of internet services in Serbia.

Originally published by Radio B92 text website, Belgrade, in English 0933 28 Jul 08.

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