Press relelase: Protect the rights of citizens through the Law on National Security Agency

Amendments to the Law on National Security Agency, which are now in parliamentary procedure, represent an opportunity to further standardize the work of the Agency and thus improve the protection of citizens’ rights. Priority issues that need to be further regulated are the following: destruction of citizens’ data which is not of security character, security checks performed in the process of obtaining citizenship, and internal control of the work of NSA.

These are some of the suggestions for further improvement of the legal framework for the NSA that Institute Alternative has submitted to the Security and Defence Committee.

Bearing in mind that the storage of personal data in the secret files represents a violation of the right to respect for private life, excessive collection of personal data needs to be reduced. Therefore, we recommended that the Amendments to the Law on National Security Agency prescribe the obligation of the NSA to submit the collected data to the Supreme Court following the application of secret surveillance measures. The Supreme Court would evaluate the legality of the measures applied. This means that immediately after „reading by the judge“ part of the material not related to the reasons for undertaking measures or related to other types of personal data that is not of security character would be destroyed, while the rest of the material would be kept in the records.

Additionally, we deem necessary to legally regulate all issues related to security checks performed in the process of application for citizenship. Specifically, since the details of this procedure are not stipulated by the law, an opportunity to standardize the right to remedy of persons who have received a negative opinion was not taken. Persons who have received negative opinion after undergoing security checks should be given the right to familiarize themselves with the collected material on the basis of which the negative opinion is given, as well as the opportunity to challenge it.

Practice has shown that the security checks in the process of application for citizenship need further standardization because of their direct effect on the lives of citizens. However, there are numerous types of security checks and, therefore, adoption of a special law on security checks modeled on the laws in comparative practice needs to be initiated.

IA has pointed out to unsatisfactory results of internal control of the work of NSA in 2012. The chief inspector that is responsible for the internal control of the work of this authority and that submits reports to the Government on the inspection conducted, by 2012 has not found an illegal application of secret surveillance measures or other forms of abuse, and have also failed to submit reports to the Government and to director of the NSA. Therefore, the Law on NSA should stipulate the obligation of submission of annual reports on the work of the Internal Control to the Security and Defence Committee. This would increase the pressure of the Parliament on the Internal Control to continuously exercise supervision and assist in initiating criminal proceedings against officials who exceeded their authority and broke the law.

It is especially important to delete the provision of the Law on NSA which limits the individual right of MPs, members of the Security and Defence Committee, to seek data and information from the NSA. In this manner, this Law would be harmonized with the Law on Parliamentary Oversight. Additionally, IA has submitted recommendations to the Parliament which relate to informing citizens about the measures that have been applied without a prior written request.

Our comments can be found here.

Dina Bajramspahić
Public Policy Researcher

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