The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Bulgaria's law on secret surveillance and how data is held violates the European Convention of Human Rights.
The court said on January 11 that its justices had ruled unanimously on the case, brought to the court by two Bulgarian lawyers along with two rights organizations, that Bulgaria failed to meet the rights convention with its Special Surveillance Means Act of 1997.
"The court found in particular that the relevant legislation governing secret surveillance did not meet the quality-of-law requirement of the convention and was unable to keep surveillance to only that which was necessary," the court said in a statement .
"Similarly, the court found that the laws governing retention and accessing communications data did not meet the quality-of-law requirement of the convention, and they were incapable of limiting such retention and accessing to what was strictly necessary," it added.
While the case was filed in 2012, its relevance has been front and center in Bulgarian politics in recent years after a special parliamentary commission found in 2020 that more than 900 citizens -- including journalists, politicians, and rights activists -- had had their conversations recorded by special services during anti-corruption protests that led to the toppling of the government.