Few in Kyrgyzstan would be surprised to learn someone in the government is listening to their phone calls. Government prying is a widely acknowledged legacy of the Soviet era. Among rights activists, however, the concern is more technical: who, exactly, is listening?
As many as 11 state agencies have the legal right to listen in on Kyrgyzstanis’ phone and Internet communications, according to a 2011 report by the Civil Initiative on Internet Policy (CIIP), a Bishkek-based watchdog and training organization. CIIP Director Tattu Mambetalieva, among others, believes only one state agency should have the legal right, along with control of the necessary equipment, to eavesdrop.
Back in 2008, under then-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the State Committee on National Security, the KGB-successor agency now known as the GKNB, “began to install special equipment to monitor all incoming and outgoing [phone and Internet] traffic. When we asked them under what legal act [they were installing the equipment], they were unable to provide documents," said Mambetalieva.
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