ArmInfo.Yeserday the Armenian parliament adopted a draft amendment to the laws "On the legal regime of emergency" and "On electronic communication", which gives a green light to the receipt of data on the movement and phone calls of citizens. The bill caused mixed reactions in connection with fears that telephone conversations will be tapped. Meanwhile, RA Minister of Justice Rustam Badasyan notes that such mechanisms are not provided for by the document.
At a press conference on April 1, the minister emphasized that it was exclusively about establishing a circle of contact persons of a citizen who has coronavirus. A system specially developed for these purposes will generate and analyze data on the location and phone calls of the virus carrier. If the data on the geolocation of the contacting persons and their telephone conversations coincide, then the relevant information will be sent to the Ministry of Emergencies, the Police and other state bodies that are competent to resolve issues related to self-isolation of persons who came into contact with the patient.
The above adjustments can be applied only in case of emergency declared in connection with the risk of an epidemic. Thus, in the case of an emergency introduced in connection with other circumstances, they are not applicable.
As Badasyan emphasized, listening and recording text messages, based on the draft law, are technically impossible. In addition, the possibility of transferring data to third parties and foreign organizations is excluded. The Minister also informed that all the data collected should be deleted upon completion of the emergency or other emergency measures.
The program for monitoring telephone calls and establishing geolocation has been developed taking into account international experience, and will make it possible to quickly identify a circle of potential virus carriers. They will be contacted by representatives of the Ministry of Emergencies, and when deciding on self-isolation, additional data will also be taken into account. Badasyan recalled that, according to the RA Ministry of Health, in Armenia the number of patients with coronavirus doubles every 7 days, which indicates the importance of expanding preventive measures.
Answering a question regarding the possibility of hacking the database by hackers, the minister noted: "There is a chance that an asteroid will fall on Earth tomorrow and there will be serious consequences, or hackers will attack the database of operators. There is a possibility of everything, but this bill has nothing to do with it>. Badasyan also expressed hope that citizens would not boycott the bill by switching from telephone communication to various instant messengers, thereby endangering the health of their loved ones.