Press release: Transparency of the National Security Agency must be increased

Traditional opacity of intelligence services is an outdated concept and the National Security Agency (NSA) should also take a more proactive role in bringing their work to the public in accordance with best practices and standards of transparency.

We call upon the Head of NSA to make steps toward increasing transparency and reveal information about the scope of secret data collection implementation by the NSA.

Recently, the Serbian Security-Information Agency (BIA) has published annual data on the precise number of insights taken into the telephone and Internet communications contents. The Head of BIA announced that such data will be published regularly from now [1]. A positive example from the neighboring contry shows that Montenegrin intelligence service’s fear that the publishing of this information will endanger national security – is exaggerated.

NSA is significantly behind other Montenegrin security and defense institutions in terms of proactive information disclosure in accordance with the principles of free access to information. The last statement was posted on the NSA website on November 2010 year, and the total number of announcements is three.

Undertaking active steps by the NSA in terms of greater transparency will contribute to greater public confidence in the legal work of the NSA. We believe it is necessary that NSA publishes on its website all the laws and regulations not labeled “secret” that regulate its operations, beside the Law on National Security Agency. Also, NSA should publish the approved NSA budget for the current year, budget execution reports; data on public procurement that were not confidential, including: calls for a public procurement procedure, the decision to award the contract and public procurement contracts, as well as the organizational structure of the NSA.

Opposition members of the Parliamentary Committee for Security and Defense often express assessments of that NSA unnecessary labels certain acts as confidential. NSA should reconsider all the decisions on confidentiality classification and remove the label “secret” from unjustifiably protected documents and information. Those parts of the annual report on the NSA’s work whose disclosure does not jeopardize national security should also be published in accordance with the principles of transparency and accountability.

Finally, it is necessary to initiate Amendments to the Law on the NSA. It is necessary to define in more precise manner the provision considering supervision of electronic communications and postal deliveries, in a way to explain what is included under electronic communications supervision, which is not the case. Provision of the Act must be precisely aligned with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights stating that the communication contents should be at the same level of protection as well as data from base stations and IP addresses. On the same basis, it is necessary to adopt a specific provision applicable to the listings access and which will include reasonable time limits for the implementation of these measures.

Dina BAJRAMSPAHIĆ
Policy Analyst

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