Back in 2004, one of the most well known members of the English House of Lords, Baroness Hale, stated that it is always difficult for the courts to make balanced judgements when more than one fundamental Human Right is in play. It seems, however, that today there are still people who cannot accept that in the era of social media and the Web the Law as applied by some European governments remains in the dark ages.
About a month ago, in late June, George Sanidas, who serves the Greek legal system as a Public Prosecutor in the Greek Supreme Court (in Greek: Areios Pagos) published a consultation which included some radical changes regarding the Greek Telecommunications Law. Specifically, Sanidas argued that Internet Communications cannot and should not be protected by the principle of the secrecy of communications. To put it in plain words, Sanidas said that anyone has the right to check Greek citizens email, monitor our computers and access our online conversations. It has to be remembered that this is set in the context of a recent wave of a huge national upheaval and riots following the shooting of a young boy by police. Those national protests challenged governmental authority. In addition, Greek bloggers have been at loggerheads with the government since at least 2006 on these kinds of issues.
In response to Sanidas’ argument, many legal academics argued that such a regulation would be against the right of privacy life every Internet user has, and furthermore that such a regulation will be unconstitutional, since the Greek Constitution describes such information as private and confidential. As you can imagine, Greek Bloggers are not the biggest fans of the consulation, since they believe that this change is against the fundamental right of freedom of expression. This view is also supported by the Hellenic Data Protection Authority, which believes that such a radical change will create many legal problems in the future. It’s an issue that doesn’t look like going away any time soon.