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Rally Against Sex Tape Blackmail
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 19 Mar.'16 / 18:35

Participants of rally outside government headquarters in Tbilisi hold posters, reading: “Don’t spy on me”, “Get out of my bedroom”; banner reads: “This Affects You” and “unfettered surveillance has been legalized” – a reference to the legislation, amended in late 2014, which despite insistence of the campaign groups, allowed security agencies to retain direct access to telecom operators’ networks. Photo: Eana Korbezashvili/Civil.ge

Few hundred people rallied in Tbilisi center on Saturday to protest against infringement of privacy rights following release of secretly recorded sex tapes, purportedly showing politicians.

The demonstration was organized by civil society activists from This Affects You, a campaign group launched in 2014 with the purpose to rein in government’s unfettered surveillance capabilities, and which the activists decided to reactivate after recently released secretly recorded sex tapes. 

Campaigners are calling on the authorities for an effective investigation and holding accountable everyone behind filming and releasing videos of private lives. They also call on the authorities to invite “international experts” to assist investigation. Campaigners also demand stringent legislative regulations that would prevent what they call is “illegal surveillance”, and setting up of an independent investigative body with the powers to probe into wrongdoings committed by the law enforcement officers.

Small groups of activists also rallied in Kutaisi, Zugdidi and Batumi on March 19.

Demonstrators marched from the Tbilisi Concert Hall to the Rustaveli Avenue towards the government headquarters in Tbilisi center, March 19, 2016. Photo: Eana Korbezashvili/Civil.ge

Several politicians and a journalist were threatened on March 14 with releasing secretly recorded videos of their private lives. The threat was made in a form of a released sex tape of unidentified individuals, posted anonymously on YouTube with the text on the video threatening three politicians, one of them opposition figure, and a TV journalist to quit their professional activities before March 31. The video and the threat came few days after a separate sex tape, purportedly showing one of the opposition politicians, was anonymously posted on YouTube on March 11.

>Demonstrators marched from the Tbilisi Concert Hall to the Rustaveli Avenue towards the government headquarters in Tbilisi center, March 19, 2016. Photo: Eana Korbezashvili/Civil.ge

Meanwhile, parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili and several senior lawmakers from the Georgian Dream ruling coalition met senior officials from law enforcement agencies and personal data protection inspector on March 19 to discuss possible legislative changes to make punishment for infringing privacy rights stricter.

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