London-based charity, “Privacy International” and the Internet and Society Foundation “Metamorphosis” today sent a letter to the authorities in Macedonia requesting information regarding the monitoring of communications by the governing institutions and assurances for privacy protection from State institutions.

“Metamorphosis” reminds that Macedonia has been in a prolonged deep political crisis for more than two years, which, among other things, pointed out that the previous ruling government illegally tapped the phone conversations of some 20,000 people, including activists, journalists, judges, diplomats, opposition leaders, and even members of the government itself.

The two organizations focused on analyzing the issue of “Direct Access” to telecommunications networks by the UBK Security and Counter-Intelligence Agency, who had a direct connection to telecommunications networks and oversight companies, which led to illegal wiretapping.

“‘Direct access’ is vulnerable to abuse. In general, it describes situations in which security agencies are directly connected to telecommunications networks to receive digital content and data for communications, often without prior notice or judicial authorization, and without the involvement and knowledge of the telecommunications operator which run the network”, reads the letter.

It stresses that in its work program for the period 2017-2020, the new government has clearly pledged to introduce mechanisms to improve internal and external control over the work of the police and security services and for protection against arbitrary supervision.

“Privacy International” and “Metamorphosis” call on the authorities to respond whether they will implement the reforms and whether they will introduce emergency safeguards for the illegal interception of communications.

The letter was sent to the President of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev the Ombudsman and the Commission for Supervising the Work of the Security and Counter-Intelligence Directorate and the Intelligence Agency. A copy of the letter was also sent to the Delegation of the European Union and to DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission.