The Georgian delegation visiting the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community in Berlin
The Georgian delegation visiting the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community in Berlin

Telecommunications surveillance was the focus of the working visit made by a high-ranking Georgian delegation to Berlin from 8 to 12 April 2019. The discussions with their German colleagues focussed on access to telecommunications surveillance of traffic data and its use and storage, as well as compliance with basic rights guaranteed by the constitution.

In these times of globalisation and advancing digitalisation, the practical importance of covert investigation measures, in particular telecoms surveillance, and their potential for criminal investigations and risk prevention, are constantly increasing. At the same time, telecoms surveillance presents the constitutional state with new challenges. These involve in particular the use of the collected data and the associated inevitable infringement of the basic rights of the person concerned.

The Georgian delegation was made up of three chairpersons of the Parliamentary Committee, the President and two Vice-Presidents of the Constitutional Court and Georgian data protection officers.

At the start of the working visit, Dr. Monika Becker, head of section at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, presented the legal requirements and current legal situation for telecommunications surveillance in Germany to the guests. At the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, the delegation was welcomed by the Parliamentary State Secretary, Stephan Mayer (MdB). Employees from the individual departments explained Germany’s security structure in great detail.

On the same day, the delegation visited the Berlin liaison office of the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (BfDI). The German Federal Data Protection Commissioner, Ulrich Kelber, welcomed the delegation in person and pointed out that surveillance measures regularly mean a serious infringement of fundamental rights and therefore require particular attention to be paid to data protection.

The Georgian guests were given insights into the practical and technical implementation of telecoms surveillance measures, both when they met representatives of the Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation) and when visiting the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Berlin. At the General Prosecutor’s Office for the State of Berlin, they were welcomed by Prosecutor General Margarete Koppers. There they learned about the legal requirements set out in the telecoms surveillance order.

At the German Bundestag Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection, the delegation was received by Chairman Stephan Brandner (MdB) and four other members of the Committee. Some very interesting discussions took place in the Committee in accordance with art. 13, para. 6 of the German Federal Constitution. Members of the G10 Commission and representatives of the Parliamentary Control Panel then went on to present the system for parliamentary control.