Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court rules against police access to phone data to check on quarantine compliance

Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court rules against police access to phone data to check on quarantine compliance

Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court ruled on November 17 to declare unconstitutional a provision in the Electronic Communications Act, which allowed law enforcement to access traffic data kept by telecom operators on the grounds of checking whether a person is complying with quarantine orders.

The amendments were part of the State of Emergency Act, passed by Parliament earlier this year to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, but were challenged by opposition MPs, who argued that the scope of the change was too great, because it was not limited only to coronavirus quarantine cases and would not expire once the current epidemiological state of emergency was over.

The Constitutional Court agreed, ruling that the provision was disproportional because “the right to privacy is not a privilege solely for periods when times are relatively calm, but also in times of crisis, where any interference should be, as a constitutional imperative, proportional and strictly necessary.”

The court’s ruling was passed by a 10-2 majority, with judges Pavlina Panova and Anastas Anastasov issuing a dissenting opinion.

In other news related to the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria on November 17:

The district crisis staff in Plovdiv has decided that fifth to 12th grade pupils in the district must return to classes from November 23.

Each head of a school must prepare a schedule for in-person and distance learning up to Christmas, the district crisis staff said.

The Military Medical Academy said in a statement that military personnel from various formations in the country are joining in assisting the academy’s hospitals.

The first group, from Musachevo, Gorna Malina and the Military Police, is already on site in the capital’s Military Hospital.

The uniformed officers were assigned duties related to disinfection and thermometry, as well as support activities in the virology laboratory of the Military Medical Academy.

The teams will rotate every two weeks and will be distributed to all military hospitals in the country.

Some of them have also passed Combat Parademic courses at the Military Medical Academy.

Supermarket chain Kaufland Bulgaria has responded to the “green corridor” order limiting access to food stores to people over-65 between 1.30pm and 4.30pm daily by announcing that, as a temporary measure, all its stores will open at an earlier time, 7am, from Mondays to Sundays.

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