'Samost ja Sildam': Supreme Court communications call points to problems

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Anvar Samost and Toomas Sildam. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Supreme Court has ruled that phone communications records that internet and mobile communication services providers have been obligated to maintain can no longer be used in criminal proceedings. The decision shed light on a long-time violation of the law in Estonia, ERR journalists Toomas Sildam and Anvar Samost said.

Samost explained that the current regulation is contrary to EU law and the Estonian Constitution and that he does not understand the director of the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) criticism of the Supreme Court decision.

"The law needs to be complied with, and it is not up to the PPA director to decide which are bad and which are good," Samost added.

Sildam said that he feels the Supreme Court has done excellent work.

"I believe the Supreme Court decision is noteworthy and deserves to be read carefully as it also says that use of such data in criminal proceedings is out of the question until such time as legislation on storing and use of said data has been taken into accordance with EU law," Sildam said.

Samost agreed, saying that the Supreme Court is fast becoming one of the most important mechanisms of balance in Estonian society. Sildam added that draft legislation to amend communications data regulations will be coming up in the Riigikogu in August.

"I would very much like to hope it will not be a hastily put together campaign of hackwork repairs, that it will come with a political debate on personal freedoms and inviolability of personal life in Estonia," Samost said regarding the bills.

He pointed out that when the initial laws were being passed, the debate did not revolve around personal freedoms but rather how much it would cost ISPs to keep records.

"I believe that we can find a solution where we can bring it into conformity with EU law and the Constitution and where the police can still be effective at finding perpetrators of serious crimes," Sildam added.

The hosts also discussed another Supreme Court decision on public and journalistic access to court files.

Samost said that he is also very pleased with that call as a journalist.

"The Estonian Constitution states that the scope of journalism in society is not to satisfy anyone's curiosity but rather to represent the interests of the public," he added.

Other topics included the future of the ABIS (automatic biometric database – ed.) bill and party ratings.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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