Compared with the gargantuan scale of the US National Security Agency’s surveillance machine, the 21,000 cell phones that the government of Georgia can supposedly monitor each day is miniscule. But anger over state snooping is still creating a PR challenge for officials in Tbilisi.
Activists for the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International Georgia are taking the Georgian Dream-dominated government to task, asserting that, despite repeated promises to kick the eavesdropping habits of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration, the Ministry of Internal Affairs persists in illicitly listening in on private conversations. The Interior Ministry is relying on so-called black boxes permanently plugged into each Georgian telecom company’s network to collect, classify and store thousands of phone calls, text messages and emails, the TI activists add.
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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance journalist living in Tbilisi, and the author of EurasiaNet.org's Tamada Tales blog.