Ukrainian National Bar Association - Violation of advocates’ rights: unlawful wiretapping and how to fight against it

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I am an advocate; my practice is related solely to provision of legal assistance and protection of clients' interests. Unlawful collection of information about me and interception of my telephone communications is a gross violation of the law.

Violation of advocates’ rights: unlawful wiretapping and how to fight against it

18:00 Tue 19.07.16 Author : Ruslan BABENKO 765 Reviews 0 Comments Print

From the personal information sources I learned that my phone was illegally intercepted by law enforcement officials. My phone conversations were monitored and recorded, and there was illegal gathering of information about me. It should be noted that my mobile phone is registered with the mobile operator "Kyivstar" and is registered as my phone in self-service system, which means that any "accidental" collection of information from my phone number and IMEI is excluded.

I am an advocate; my practice is related solely to provision of legal assistance and protection of clients' interests. Unlawful collection of information about me and interception of my telephone communications is a gross violation of the law, namely, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to respect for private and family life, Article 31 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees to citizens a right to privacy of correspondence, telephone conversations, telegraph and other correspondence, and Article 32 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees no interference in private and family life, except under the Constitution.

I believe that obtaining a court order for interception of my phone communications has been the result of intentional falsification of documents and misleading of the court in order to obtain personal benefit by law enforcement officials.

In order to establish all factual circumstances, it is necessary to establish who, on what basis and in respect of which circumstances applied to the court during the period from 2013 to 2016 with a request for a temporary access and a request for covert investigations, collection of information, access to a telephone correspondence, phone number and/or IMEI of the phone I used.

I would like to emphasize that law enforcement officials often do not specify in their requests to the court a telephone number, limiting themselves to a reference to an IMEI, while not informing parties to the proceedings as to who owns a phone device, whose IMEI is stated in the request (in any criminal proceedings one can obtain a court order to wiretap someone’s phone, stating in the request only an IMEI of a phone of a person, in whom law enforcement officers are interested. It should be noted that no one remembers IMEI of his phone, and the court has no reliable possibility to ascertain who owns the phone with a particular IMEI. In other words, the court easily authorizes interception of any phone that is interesting for a law enforcement official, but on the basis of IMEI one can intercept all information from a device (including Internet traffic, messages from skype, viber, etc.).

As part of my own investigation, I applied to the National Police and the prosecutor's office, from which I received a response that my phone was not intercepted and that no investigation actions were taken in respect of me. However, no inquiries to the mobile operator "Kyivstar" with requests for information as to who and on what basis requested interception of information and access to communications at my phone with IMEI 861888010315931 have been made upon my applications. In other words, law enforcement officials knowingly give information that there has been no interception with my phone, while concealing the fact that they received the court’s authorization not in respect of my phone number or myself, but namely in respect of the IMEI number of my phone. No inquiry has been made in respect of collection of information based on IMEI. It appears that it is necessary to conduct an inquiry regarding the collection of information linked exactly to the IMEI number.

Thus, the gist of the problem is that law enforcement officers obtain court orders for the collection of information indicating only the IMEI number of the phone of a person in whom they take interest. These orders are obtained in the criminal proceedings to which the person being tapped has no relation. Law enforcement officers cannot legalize such interceptions, but they can easily get information about those in whom they take interest.

There are several effective methods to fight against this arbitrariness:

1). to change the phone, but this is not effective enough, because you would have to change the phone device quite often. I should note that employees of mobile operators freely provide law enforcement officials with IMEI numbers of persons, whose numbers they take interest in, but the wiretapping, i.e. collection of information, is carried out based only on a court order;

2). to change the phone’s IMEI, which is a fifteen-digit number appearing on the phone screen if one enters a combination of symbols *#06#. It is this code that the law enforcement officials mention in their requests to the courts for collection of information. One can change this number having cross-flashed the phone or, on Android-based smartphones, one can easily change an IMEI by accessing the engineering menu. It is desirable to indicate the IMEI number as "000000000000000", because in Ukraine tens of thousands of phone devices are registered with such an IMEI. Therefore, it is impossible to collect information from all existing numbers having received the court order. It is possible to learn the details of how to change the IMEI number on YouTube, having entered in the search the phrase "How to change IMEI of a phone";

3). also, one of the ways of fighting with this practice is the punishment of those responsible and stopping illegal actions. For that, one would need to submit complaints to the PGO, SSU and NABU with a request to conduct an investigation of unlawful collection of information from one’s communication channels. It is crucial to request investigation to collect information based on IMEI of one’s phone and to request an official response that your mobile operator had not received a court order with your phone’s IMEI. In the event that the operator received such an order, one should demand official investigation and bringing those responsible to liability.


Автор публікації: Ruslan BABENKO


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