Bulgaria's Interior Minister Boasts 3-Fold Wiretap Stats Decrease

Domestic | August 6, 2013, Tuesday // 18:12|  views

Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev, photo by BGNES

In the first six months of 2013, the deployment of special surveillance equipment decreased threefold compared to December 2012, according to Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev.

At a Tuesday press conference, Yovchev, as cited by the Focus news agency, explained that the Chief Directorate "Combating Organized Crime" (GDBOP) of the Interior had used special surveillance devices in 2012 on as many occasions as all entities authorized to request the measure did now.

Yovchev presented the plan of Tsvetan Kitov, head of the Specialized Operative and Technical Information Directorate (SOTID), for tightening control over the activity.

Bulgaria's Interior Minister drew attention to the inefficient oversight of the use of special surveillance equipment and the evidence gathered through these devices, adding that the flaws had been repeatedly identified by the prosecuting authority.

He said that the measures aimed at boosting the efficiency of the deployment of special surveillance equipment would not be costly but would rather involve changes to the organization of the activity of the Interior.

Yovchev vowed that the reforms would result in the elimination of cases of unauthorized deployment of special surveillance devices.

Tsvetan Kitov, Director of the Specialized Operative and Technical Information Directorate, made clear that each recording obtained through special surveillance equipment would carry a watermark i.e. it would contain easily recoverable information about the time and date when it had been made and about the authority which had requested it.

He explained that the introduction of watermarking would grant access to detailed information about the file which would be undeletable regardless of the number of times the file had been copied and even in cases when a mere second of the recording was used.

Kitov, as cited by mediapool.bg, informed that the deadline for introducing watermarking was end-2014.

He said that another innovation would be the introduction of two registers to control the use of special surveillance devices and the data obtained through the recordings.

Kitov noted that the registers would contained detailed information about the surveillance equipment used, the authorities which had requested and deployed them, the preparation of forensic evidence on the basis of the recording, etc.

He specified that the two registers were to be ready by end-2013.

Kitov also told journalists that vehicles used as listening posts would be equipped with GPS systems, adding that a CCTV system would be developed by end-2014 for the rooms where special surveillance devices were to be deployed.

Asked whether the control mechanisms he listed were being applied, he said that he had the ambition to boost the level of oversight, without going into details about the current situation at SOTID.

He also noted that the Interior was also planning to set up a research and development center to develop methods to enhance existing surveillance equipment and create new devices.

Yovchev and Kitov refused to say why the Interior was presenting plans about reform in the sphere of special surveillance equipment in 2014, taking into account that the Interior would no longer be involved in the technical application of the surveillance devices at that time.

In July 2013, Bulgaria's government voted to spin off SOTID from the Interior and convert it into a State Agency "Technical Operations" under the control of the government.

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Tags: Tsvetlin Yovchev, special surveillance devices, GDBOP, Interior Minister, interior ministry, wiretapping, wiretapping scandal


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